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Refugees criticize Swedish media coverage of migrants

Published måndag 2 maj 2016 kl 13.00
Jihad Eshmawi: Another person's story is not like mine
(4:49 min)
Jihad Eshmawi
Part of the list of "principles for a new migration narrative" and one of its authors, Jihad Eshmari. Photo montage: Swedish Radio / Jihad Eshmawi

Swedish media should emphasize the personal experience of immigrants and not focus on their costs to society, according to a group of refugees who have developed a list of points for how media coverage should change.

The points were published on change.org Monday along with a video in which volunteer immigrants read some of the points.

"I am not a freeloader," says one young woman in the video.

The group was brought together by the Swedish Migration Agency as part of an initiative called Mig Talks, a series of events where immigrants of all stripes are invited to share their personal experiences and views.

In Mig Talks' first round, 21 refugees participated in discussions, with the latest dealing with how Swedish media outlets cover immigration.

"I want to see numbers, but I want to see other things in the media, too. I want to see my dreams in a new country, in another life. I want to see another friend's competence, what they will do in this country," said Jihad Eshmawi who took part in the recent Mig Talks event.

Eshmawi is 25 and was born to Palestinian family in Syria. He lives with his mother and two brothers in Gothenburg, western Sweden. In 2013, Eshmawi left Syria to escape mandatory military service. He traveled through Egypt and by boat over the Mediterranean before reaching Europe and seeking asylum in Sweden.

Eshmawi told Radio Sweden that he doesn't believe Swedish media coverage of migration has particularly reflected his own experience, and he thinks words often used in the media to describe immigration like "waves," "streams," or "flows" are dehumanizing.

Referring to a "refugee crisis" was an exaggeration when considering that asylum seekers who have often left behind friends and families might be more deserving of the word "crisis”, said Eshmawi.

Lisa Söderlindh, who works for the Migration Agency and organizes the Mig Talks project, said her organization is trying to give immigrants a platform to express their views.

"The knowledge about migration to Sweden comes from hearing the perspectives from those who've made a decision to come," Söderlindh told Radio Sweden.

According to the Mig Talks project's website, a total 600,000 people from 200 different countries came to Sweden between 2010 and 2015.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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