This week, violence exploded in and around the Swedish capital of Stockholm, leaving the world in shock. Although the riots were not excessively violent or out of the ordinary by world standards, for the peaceful, sleepy nation – they were an alarming departure from order as young immigrants burnt cars and pelted policemen, in response to the shooting of a Portuguese 69 year old by the police. The situation was aggravated by strong- armed police action and exploded into riots lasting 6 days. However, the reason this is shocking is that Sweden is a country that accepts immigrants with open arms and treats them extremely well – 2 out of its 9.5 million citizens are not ethnic Swedes. But growing inequality and ethnic alienation coupled with economic austerity has resulted in anger among the immigrants and the Swedes – and here is where the world must open its eyes. Is Sweden’s “accept all” policy really the right way to go? But for now, we cannot cast any in right or wrong – foreigners feel ostracized and mistreated by locals, while locals feel they are being displaced? Anyhow, violence is certainly not the way to go.
References: The Financial Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post