Posts Tagged ‘Immigration policy’

In Sweden, “pc” now stands for political cowardice

January 27, 2016

I am an immigrant in Sweden. I suppose I was, like any expat, an “economic migrant” when I was recruited into Sweden 32 years ago, since I accepted the economic package that was offered then to move to Sweden. But an initially expected 3 year stay has now become 32 years. Our children grew up here and though I have lived in five countries over the years (India, UK, Japan, Germany and Sweden), we have settled here and made Sweden our home. It is the most open country I know. And as the Swedish national anthem puts it Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden (“Yes, I wish to live, I wish to die in Norden”).

One aspect about life in Sweden that I find frustrating though, is the amount of servile conformity I find in the supposedly “free press” and among the main-stream political parties. Conformity and “political correctness” have religious overtones here. I suppose the media are free to apply self-censorship if they so wish. But their fear of deviating from “political correctness” borders on cowardice. It becomes interesting when one “political correctness” conflicts with another. In the wake of the mass sexual harassment of girls and young women by gangs of “asylum seeking youths”, the sexism narrative is pitted against the multiculturalism orthodoxy. We now have the ridiculous statements of Swedish feminists (and the conforming media), claiming that the harassment is just about gender and not about culture.

Normally the media are so sanctimonious and correct about “feminism” versus “sexism” (TV even more than the press), as to be positively embarrassing. I cringe at the banality of some of the programs on Swedish TV. They end up as religious ceremonies to the glory of the pc gods (and LGBT is the name of one such god). But it is apparently even more divinely correct to pretend that ignoring problems with immigrants (which are cultural rather than race or ethnicity issues), will make the problems go away. This fear is in turn based on the misguided assumption that culture and ethnicity are the same (or could be mistaken to be the same).

The media (and political parties) have lived in the belief that reporting problems with certain groups of immigrants will only play into the hands of the right-wing, anti-immigrant, Sweden Democrats. Yet the backlash to this intentional hiding of reality has only helped propel the Sweden Democrats to record highs in support. If the intentional self-censorship was meant to prevent that, then it has been spectacularly counter-productive. After the refugee crisis, the immigration policies of the Red/Green government are now almost identical to those proposed earlier by the Sweden Democrats. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that hiding a problem or pretending it does not exist, always precludes addressing the problem. Craven compliance with political correctness has become political cowardice. Integration of immigrants in large numbers can never be easy. There are different things to be done for integration depending upon whether the newcomers are from Somalia or Afghanistan or Morocco. But these things can be done. But not if the the press and authorities pretend that the problems don’t exist.

Why is it, for example, that it is only the right-wing web-sites and the foreign press which reports that the 15-year old asylum seeker who allegedly stabbed a young asylum worker to death was of Somali origin? There cannot be many people in Sweden who do not now know that – but yet the authorities and the mainstream media will not mention the fact. They persist – in a denial of intelligence – in pretending that the origin of the alleged murderer is not pertinent to the case.

Why is it that no part of the mainstream Swedish media has the courage to publish anything along the lines of these two recent articles in The Spectator. The Spectator in the UK may support the conservatives and is certainly right of centre, but it is hardly a fascist rag.

Spectator 1:

It’s not only Germany that covers up mass sex attacks by migrant men… Sweden’s record is shameful

…… The answer can be discovered in the reaction to the Cologne attacks. Sweden prides itself on its sexual equality and has even pioneered a feminist foreign policy. When hundreds of women were reported to have been molested and abused in Cologne — at the hands of an organised mob — the reaction from Swedish politicians and pundits ought to have been one of outrage.

Instead, we were told that the events in Cologne were not unusual. An article in Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest tabloid, argued that it was racist to point out that the perpetrators in Cologne had been described as North African or Arab, since German men had carried out sexual assaults during Bavaria’s Oktober-fest. Another Aftonbladet article said that reporting on the Cologne attacks was bowing to right-wing extremism. Over the last week, we have been told over and over that the real issue is men, not any particular culture — that Swedish men are no better.

Then last week Sweden’s own stories began to emerge.

And then The Spectator had this article about the murder of Alexandra Mezher by the alleged 15-year old Somali asylum-seeker.

Spectator 2:

Why can’t the Swedish authorities be honest about crime and immigration?

…. Yesterday, a 15-year-old at an immigration centre stabbed and killed one of its female employees in Mölndal, near Gothenburg. It’s the kind of story that shakes the country to its core. Sweden has taken a staggering number of unaccompanied children – some 20,000 in the past four months – so the government has to act in loco parentis. To keep them out of trouble, as well as educate and accommodate then. It’s a very tough ask, a job that many Swedes fear is simply beyond the competence of government. In such circumstances, appalling things can happen.

A police spokesman had this to say:

‘It was messy, of course, a crime scene with blood. The perpetrator had been overpowered by other residents, people were depressed and upset. These kinds of calls are becoming more and more common… We’re dealing with more incidents like these since the arrival of so many more refugees from abroad.’

What makes this worse is that in Sweden, the police refuse to say if the suspect was an asylum seeker or not. This happens time and time again: a weird and unusual crime (say, a stabbing in Ikea or a rape on a ferry) and the Swedish police (and press) refuse to say whether the perpetrator is an immigrant – as if admitting as much would somehow feed anti-immigrant sentiment.

In fact, the refusal to level with the Swedish public is having the opposite effect. News of an attack brings grief and outrage, but the sense that the authorities are not telling the whole truth brings a new level of anger and suspicion. All of this further undermines public support for immigration, and hands votes to the Sweden Democrats.

….. And, in this way, a xenophobic populist backlash is being incubated in the most open country on earth.


How Syrian refugees are helping to solve a German conundrum

September 8, 2015

Germany is now perceived as the land of “sanctuary” in Europe, which was once a position occupied by the UK for many years. Certainly after the xenophobia exhibited by the Hungarian government (but not by all Hungarians) and the reluctance of some other European governments to accept refugees (Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, Denmark …..), Angela Merkel has won many brownie points by exhibiting a generosity not visible from other countries. In fact the response means that Germany now occupies the moral high ground. By announcing that they can take up to 500,000 per year for several years, they make other EU countries look like “hardhearted cheapskates”. The UK response, with 20,000 in 5 years makes Ebeneezer Scrooge look generous.  Even the US is shown up by German actions as just one of the group of countries who speak highly about the value of compassion but fail to walk the talk.

The Guardian:

Germany could take 500,000 refugees each year for “several years”, the country’s vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has said, as fresh clashes broke out overnight between police and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos and thousands of people gathered amid chaotic scenes on the Greek border with Macedonia.

“I believe we could surely deal with something in the order of half a million for several years,” he told ZDF public television. “I have no doubt about that, maybe more.” Germany expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, four times the total for 2014.

But this generosity is not entirely due to altruism.

In March this year I posted about a study by the Bertelsmann Stiftung which pointed out how Germany needed to have an immigration level of 500,000 per year till 2050 to overcome labour shortages and compensate for an ageing population. It pointed out that “efforts to attract skilled workers from non-EU countries should be intensified.”

The report also pointed out that it would be difficult to maintain the level of skilled immigration needed. It would seem that for Germany to be fairly generous with its approach to Syrian refugees is not just altruism but may well be in Germany’s self-interest. The Syrians generally have a much higher level of education and skills than is evident from refugees originating from Africa and those that stay in Germany may well be able to enter the productive work force much faster.

The Syrian refugees help solve a conundrum that was faced by Germany.

Zuwanderungsbedarf aus Drittstaaten in Deutschland bis 2050

Press Release: Without immigrants, the potential labor force would sink from approximately 45 million today to less than 29 million by 2050 – a decline of 36 percent. This gap cannot be closed without immigration. Even if women were to be employed at the same rate as men, and the retirement age was increased to 70 in 2035, the number of potential workers in the country would rise by only about 4.4 million.

In 2013, a total of 429,000 more people came to Germany than left the country. Last year, the net total was 470,000, the Federal Statistical Office reports. According to the study, net immigration at this level would be sufficient for at least the next 10 years to keep the country’s potential labor force at a constant level. From that time onward, however, the need for immigrants will grow, because the baby-boomer generation will be entering retirement. One out of two of today’s skilled workers with professional training will have left the working world by 2030. …

….. the current high levels of immigration from EU countries (2013: around 300,000) will soon decline significantly, as demographic change is shrinking populations across the European Union, and because incentives to emigrate in crisis-stricken countries will decline with economic recovery. The experts forecast an annual average of just 70,000 immigrants or fewer from EU counties by 2050. For this reason, efforts to attract skilled workers from non-EU countries should be intensified. …

But Angela Merkel is implementing today actions that will be needed by nearly all European countries suffering from a declining fertility and a rapidly ageing population. It is no accident that Germany is probably best placed in Europe to have a chance of maintaining the critical ratio of its working population to its supported population (under 15s and over 65s) beyond 2050.

I begin to see Angela Merkel as being much more long-sighted and much more of a visionary than I have ever given her credit for.

The Mediterranean is the graveyard of the Château d’EU

October 12, 2013

Washington PostDozens were feared dead after a boat filled with migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea about 70 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, just a week after more than 300 migrants died when their boat sank near the same island south of Sicily.

At least 50 are known to have died yesterday including at least 3 small children.

Map of migrants routes

Europe’s Graveyard

The EU – we should not forget –  won the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

Which only goes to show how ridiculous the Nobel Peace Prize and the Norwegian Nobel Committee has become. And while the EU rests on its laurels, the Mediterranean is fast becoming the graveyard of the Château d’EU (with apologies to Alexandre Dumas).


A ship carrying migrants capsized Friday near the Italian island of Lampedusa. (GoogleMaps)

It is not that I am advocating open borders for the EU (though there will be a time in the distant future when nation states and national boundaries will become obsolete). But nearly all the countries of the EU need – in the long-term – to improve the ratio of their working population to their supported populations (notwithstanding the short-term high unemployment that currently reigns in some countries). It was the EU which supported the overthrow of the old regime in Tunisia. It was the EU itself which was so keen to bomb Libya and cannot now escape from the consequences. It is the EU which is supporting Al Qaida in Syria by supporting the “rebels” and that too will have long term consequences. When Assad’s regime prevails – as it seems to be doing – where will all the “rebel” Syrians turn? The EU was all too quick to support the overthrow of Mubarak without realising what the Muslim Brotherhood would bring.

It is in the EU’s long-term self interest to develop a pro-active – and therefore orderly –  immigration policy in the countries outside its borders. It is politicians in the ruling parties across Europe who have to stop pandering to nationalistic, short-term populism and have the courage to lead their countries to face up to the long term demographic challenges. And that cannot happen with a Fortress Europe policy.

With a Château d’EU surrounded by watery graveyards.


Maltese PM Joseph Muscat has said European waters close to Africa are turning into a cemetery, after another boat laden with migrants capsized. Mr Muscat said Malta felt “abandoned” by the rest of Europe and insisted that the EU had to take action.

Malta and Italy launched a rescue operation after a boat capsized on Friday, leaving up to 50 people dead. It happened 120km (70 miles) off Lampedusa, the Italian island where at least 300 migrants drowned last week.

The loss of life has renewed the debate within EU member states on migration rules.

In the latest incident, the vessel carrying more than 200 migrants is believed to have encountered difficulties in Maltese waters just before sunset on Friday. The migrants used a satellite phone to raise the alarm but the boat capsized when passengers crowded to one side as they tried to get the attention of a passing aircraft, the Maltese navy said.

…. Also on Friday, a separate boat accident off the Egyptian port of Alexandria claimed the lives of at least 12 migrants.

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