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racism row

"He spat in my face"

Published torsdag 23 augusti 2012 kl 15.26
"He told me to fuck off"
(2:23 min)
Simon Idriss. Photo: Maria Ågren/SR

This week as the school year started across Sweden, Somali families in the small town of Forserum refused to send their children to school. They say they are being targeted by a racist gang. There are reports of vandalism, threats, and assault and the municipality held a crisis meeting on Wednesday evening. Simone Idriss, 15, says a man swore at her and spat in her face.

Fifteen children in Forserum have been kept at home by their scared parents - they are Somali immigrants here have suffered harassment ever since they moved here a few years ago - but it's become worse.

"The Somali people in Forserum think it's gone further this summer than ever before, says local radio reporter Alexandra Svedberg visited the town of 2,000 inhabitants.

One victim is 15-year-old Simone Idriss.

"He threw a stone at my window and when I asked him why, he told me to fuck off," she says. "Then he spat in my face and tried to hit me."

"There's been physical violence, and there's been bad words," summaries local priest Jakob Fhager Bjärkhed. "And they have come home to them and knocked on their doors and screamed stuff. They have thrown stones in their community association."

Reports of harassment are not new - many Somalis have already left the small town, says Fhager Bjärkhed.

"About one hundred of them have already moved out of here and the rest are saying now they are about to leave," he says.

On Wednesday night, the municipality held a crisis meeting - they even said they would provide escorts for the children.

Reporter Alexandra Svedberg says about 15 children are housebound.

"They are too afraid to go outside, (the parents) want the children to stay inside the house all the time," she says.

"I hope things will get better," says the priest, Fhager Bjärked. "They've been hated by some our young kids here in Forserum."

And although he is part of a group of people who help Somali children with their homework, he says he hadn't realised how bad things had become.

"For myself and many of my friends, we feel ashamed that we haven't realised how bad the situation has been for them."

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