Sweden: Troubled suburb 'growing more radical'

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The Local
A majority of Rosengård's inhabitants believe it has undergone a radicalization over the past five years, a controversial new study shows.
Ranstorp and Dos Santos describe how "ultra-radical" Islamists attached to basement mosques "preach isolation and act as thought controllers while also maintaining a strong culture of threats, in which women in particular are subjected to physical and psychological harassment." A row has since broken out over the Rosengård report (see below).
Experts believe the city council needs to be allocated greater financial resources if it is to get to grips with the rise of political and religious extremism.

Researchers Magnus Ranstorp and Josefine Dos Santos from the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College were tasked by the government with examining the effects of preventive measures taken in Sweden against violent extremism and radicalization. As part of their studies, the researchers conducted extensive interviews with school personnel and police officers active in the Rosengård district.

The vast majority of respondents were of the view that the predominantly immigrant suburb had become considerably more radical over the last five years. Ranstorp and Dos Santos describe how "ultra-radical" Islamists attached to basement mosques "preach isolation and act as thought controllers while also maintaining a strong culture of threats, in which women in particular are subjected to physical and psychological harassment."

"Newcomer families who were never particularly traditional or religious say they lived more freely in their home countries than they do in Rosengård," the researchers write. Rosengård district committee chairman Andreas Konstantinides (SocDem) said he shared the researchers' concerns about "thought police" controlling the climate of expression in the area. "I actually think these radical individuals are limited in number. But they exert an influence through manipulation and exploiting the situation."

Konstantinides said he viewed the moderate Muslim majority, who are irritated and concerned by the radicals, as a resource with which to counteract their rise. "We need to try to mobilize the forces for good. We cooperate well with the Islamic Center, for example, which runs the main mosque in Malmö," he said.

Integration and Equality Minister Nyamko Sabuni reacted strongly to the report.

"It is completely unacceptable that there are fundamentalist groups in Rosengård prescribing child marriage, harassing women who don't wear headscarves and encouraging young people to isolate themselves from society. Swedish laws, rights and equality apply to everybody, including the residents of Rosengård," Sabuni said in a statement. The minister added that a series of coordinated measures were necessary in order to tackle radicalization, involving schools, social services and the police.

28 January 2009

Source: The Local: Sweden's News in English


Row breaks out over Rosengård report

Three academics who demanded to see the source material behind a controversial new report on religious and poltical extremism in the Malmö suburb of Rosengård have been told that the material no longer exists. Researchers Leif Stenberg, Anders Ackfeldt and Dan-Erik Andersson from the Centres for Middle East Studies and Human Rights Studies at Lund University, were told by the Swedish National Defence College (SNDC) that the source material had been destroyed. "That's bad enough. But what's worse is that the Rosengård district in Malmö has one again been the centrepoint of clichéd and poorly grounded assertions," the researchers write in an article published by newspaper Sydsvenskan.

The authors of the report, Magnus Ranstorp and Josefine Dos Santos from the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, describe how "ultra-radical" Islamists attached to basement mosques "preach isolation and act as thought controllers while also maintaining a strong culture of threats, in which women in particular are subjected to physical and psychological harassment."

The 30-page report, entitled "Threat to Democracy and Values - A Snapshot from Malmö," is based on interviews with 30 people working in the city, including the police, secret service, social services and teachers. Lars Nicander, the investigative head of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies, confirmed on Friday that the source material had been destroyed. "We did it because it contained sensitive information about private individuals. Even if the names were removed it would be easy to identify them," Nicander said.

The researchers had promised their subjects that the interviews would be destroyed since some of them had previously been exposed to threats, Nicander said. He added that the report was not a scientific study but that the authors had used scientific methods. "The primary aim was to work with tested scientific methods to give a view of the situation, as requested by the government," he said.

Nicander dismissed the Lund researchers' criticism of the report as a manifestation of "academic jealousy". "It's clearly not allowed to problematise this. They're not attacking the facts but they immediately interpret the report as an outbreak of Islamophobia.

BACKGROUND: Riots erupted in Rosengård in December following protests over the closure of an Islamic cultural centre that housed a mosque, and spread to become a general expression of discontent among disadvantaged youths and political extremists who flocked to the area from other parts of the city.

30 January 2009

Source: The Local