Parliament holds debate on Stockholm riots
The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats called for a special debate in parliament on Friday, less than two weeks after a number of Stockholm suburbs saw stone throwing at windows and the emergency services, as well as the burning of cars, schools, and daycare centers.
Sweden Democrat party leader Jimmie Åkesson wanted to blame the urban unrest on the immigration policies of the other political parties.
"It's not just horrible and scary,” he said. “If anything it's the clearest sign of a totally, gigantic political failure. During this debate we're going to hear a number of explanations, we're going to hear that we blame this problem on immigrants – which isn't true. We blame the other political parties in this chamber."
Åkesson said the root of the problem is segregation, caused by Sweden's immigration policies.
He said the parents of children who participated in stone throwing and burning should have their child benefits taken away and should also be given obligatory parental training.
But just as Åkesson predicted, the other parties did attack the Sweden Democrats for their stance on immigration.
Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt said: "It's not about ethnicity, it's not about immigration, it's about creating a fairer, better, and more equal society that we can believe in. A new report from the OECD shows that the number of poor people in Sweden has doubled in Sweden in the past 15 years. This obviously affects the composition of society, crime, and hopes for the future."
During the debate, representatives from each party expressed their outrage over what had taken place last week. And they offered different solutions – more money for education, better schools, more investments to provide jobs for young people.
Justice Minister Beatrice Ask of the conservative Moderate party expressed satisfaction with how the police handled the unrest. She said 46 people had been arrested.
"My view is that the police handled the situation very well,” Ask said. “The Stockholm police were able to mobilize their resources quickly and also got help from other parts of the country. It takes stamina because we should be clear that this type of operation is demanding.”
Morgan Johansson, representing the largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, called for an improvement in the work of the police. He said their target should be efforts to split up gangs.
And he too criticized Jimmie Åkesson.
"For the Sweden Democrats, this is not about stopping the violence,” he said. “Time and time again, it's about placing the blame on the immigrants. I wonder if Jimmie Åkesson has any credibility at all when it comes to street violence”?
It was only one year ago, Johansson pointed out, that the Sweden Democrats' own parliamentary leaders were exposed running around on the streets brandishing iron pipes.