Sweden Democrats distribute leaflets to try to stop refugees

3:29 min

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats now confirm that they have been handing out leaflets in southern Europe to try to deter refugees from coming to Sweden.

"We feel that we have tried everything in our parliamentary power to respond to the destructive policies of Sweden. We need to be on the spot to lessen the flow of refugees," Joakim Wallerstein, press spokesperson of the Sweden Democrats told the news agency TT.

The leaflets claim that Sweden's wealth "is gone" and that "decades of mass immigration" means the country "is not safe anymore".

The leaflets are signed "the Sweden Democrats, SD-women, the People of Sweden".

Several facts are clearly incorrect, such as the claim that halal slaughter and wearing a burqa or a niqab in public places is going to be made illegal. Other details are also economical with the truth, such as "we can currently only offer tents and camp beds" and "you will eventually be sent back home".

There are plans to temporarily house some 400 asylum seekers in a tent camp outside Lund in Skåne, but the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers are in proper houses.

So far, refugees from Syria have been given permanent residency permits, but temporary permits are expected to be introduced next year. The government has agreed with the four opposition parties of the Alliance that the temporary permit will be made permanent after three years, if the refugee is still in need of protection or if they are able to earn their living. Families with children, as well as unaccompanied minors and people who come here on a UN-quota are exempted from the temporary permits.

Party secretary Mattias Karlsson tells news agency TT why the leaflets are signed not only by the party but also by "the People of Sweden".

"We believe the facts we present and our claims are something that a majority of Swedes share. There is support for gender equality and the fight against forced marriages. Our claim that we're increasingly going to send people back after a while are in line with the migration agreement, in which the parties have agreed to issue temporary residence permits," Karlsson says.

When confronted with the fact that temporary permits will not apply to all asylum seekers, Karlsson replied there is no room for all possible exceptions in a leaflet.

"There is no space to bring up all possible situations and exceptions in an A5 leaflet. We decided to prioritize the most relevant information we wanted to convey," Karlsson says.

Wallerstein says there are currently 30 people working for the party to hand out leaflets on 17-20 other locations in six different countries.

Journalism professor Christian Christensen told Radio Sweden that this campaign seems to target refugees abroad, and not a domestic audience, like an earlier advertisement campaign in an underground station in Stockholm. Will it work, will it persuade people not to come to Sweden?

"I do find it hard to believe that someone who has left everything behind and is running for their life from a war-torn country will be convinced to not go where they are planning to go because of a leaflet, but of course that is impossible to say," said Christensen.

Social Democrat Migration Minister Morgan Johansson is very critical with the leaflet and tells Swedish Radio News that the Sweden Democrats are lying.

"This confirms what kind of party the Sweden Democrats is," Johansson says.

"A party that is ready to lie in order to promote their political goals. I believe this is very serious," he added.