A Political Ad in Sweden Causes a Stir and a Rift

Swedes will head to the polls on September 19 to elect an new Riksdag. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, leader of the governing four party coalition Alliance for Sweden, and his right-wing Moderate Party is facing a tough election battle against the opposing Red-Greens coalition led by Mona Sahlin, leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party. Recent polling shows the current government leading narrowly, vying to become only the second centre-right government to win re-election. The Alliance for Sweden came to power in September 2006 after winning a seven-seat majority in the 349-seat Riksdag, Sweden's parliament. It is only the third right of centre government in Sweden since 1936.

Approximately 4 percent of the population of Sweden is Muslim but it is growing rapidly. In numbers that translates to 300,000 out of a total population of 9.2 million. Muslim migrants to Sweden hail from all over the Islamic world but predominately come from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Palestine. There are also large number of Somalis and Eritreans as well as a sizable pocket of Sri Lankan Muslim refugees.

The rise in Islamic immigration, however, has led to an unprecedented rise in crime in the country in particular against women. The number of rapes in Sweden has tripled in just twenty years with 85 percent of assailants being Muslims. On New Year's Eve in 2004, two Swedish girls were attacked and beaten by four Somali immigrants, a story that made worldwide news for the brutality of the attacks. In 2007, another Somali man slashed a woman at a discotheque as he yelled out that Swedish women were whores. Perhaps these are isolated incidents but the nature of the attacks left a deep impact on Sweden.

Earlier this year, racial tensions boiled over leading to two nights of rioting in the Rinkeby and Tensta suburbs of Stockhölm. In Malmö, Sweden's third largest city, perhaps 15 percent of the population is now Islamic. And over the past few years, Malmö has become the epicenter for anti-Semitic violence in Europe that has forced many in the once 800 strong members of one Scandinavia's oldest Jewish communities to leave.

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