Islam in Europe: Rosengaard, an immigrant haven in Sweden
With a baseball cap tilted sideways on his head and a cigarette dangling from his mouth, 22-year-old Malek Hassan looks like any idle young immigrant in Europe with too much time on his hands.
Sitting at the foot of an apartment building spouting satellite dishes that bring foreign television programmes into immigrants’ homes, Hassan recounts how his family came to Sweden when he was six-years-old.
They fled Iraq following the Gulf War and settled in the heavily immigrant neighbourhood of Rosengaard in southern Malmoe, where foreigners, who make up one-third of the 280 000 inhabitants, are increasingly marginalised from Swedish society.
Here, Hassan said, “all young people become criminals. They have no jobs, no money. They have to survive”.
In recent years thousands of Iraqis have settled in Rosengaard — and Swedes have practically deserted the area. Unemployment and petty crime are rampant, fuelling residents’ frustrations and Swedes’ fears.
Few residents here speak Swedish or English. Women typically wear the Islamic veil, and defer to husbands when questioned by an AFP reporter.
Alf Hollsten, who owns a cosmetics shop in the mall, is one of only two Swedish shopkeepers left.
“When I arrived in 1982, there were only Swedes. Today, we are only two and the customers are surprised I don’t speak Arabic,” he told AFP, adding that while he does not worry about his safety he did move out of the neighbourhood years ago.
“The problem is that they live here as they live in their country. They have no job and they don’t actually look for a job,” he said.
An employee at the jewellery store next door agrees.
And why is Sweden the preferred destination?
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“I think people don’t want to work because if you want to you can,” said Mithal Romi, a 41-year-old Iraqi who arrived in Sweden with his wife and three children in 1996.
“The state gives you everything when you arrive. Swedes are more tolerant than Danish people” for example, he said.
“The problem is they don’t want to work, they just want to get money and black work (under the table). This is not a good idea,” Romi said.
Hat tip: LN.