[ View the story "No such thing as race in Sweden?" on Storify] No such thing as race in Sweden? The Stream examines the debate around government plans to remove all mentions of race from Swedish law.
The Stream· Thu, Aug 07 2014 18:16:08
In announcing plans to remove all references of race from Swedish law,
, Sweden's integration minister
: "We also know that the fundamental grounds of racism are based on the belief that there are different races, and that belonging to a race makes people behave in a certain way, and that some races are better than others."
The Stream spoke with Minister Ullenhag about this topic and here is what he had to say:
The Stream phone interview with Sweden's Minister for IntegrationGkwyM2Li85OsEyylAGgkUA
Twenty Swedish laws,
criminal code, student financial aid laws, and credit information laws contain the concept of race. A chief district court judge has been assigned with investigating how to best implement this decision which has been in the making for 20 years.
Austria, Hungary and France have also
the term "race" from their laws. The Swedish government decided to scrap the word "race" because in Sweden the term implies the existence of subspecies which are superior or inferior compared to others.
"Race may be a social construct, but that doesn't mean it's not a reality," ASR spokesman Kitwamba Sabuni told The Local. "For us, this is just trying to take away the possibility to even talk about it. It's critical."thelocal.se
Sabuni also said:
"How can you apply for a grant for fighting racism if the concept of race doesn't exist in legislation? Racism will disappear de facto from the agenda. The government is lost in a fantasy, a fantasy which counteracts effective work against racism."thelocal.se
Racism and hate crimes in Sweden are on the
according to the Migration Policy Institute.
And over the past five years, the number of hate crimes directed against Africans and the Roma climbed by 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively. A report by Sweden's United Nations Association and other organizations found that of the more than 5,000 hate crimes reported in 2012, about 74 percent were motivated by racism or xenophobia.migrationpolicy.org
In May 2013, Stockholm witness several days of youth
that began in an immigrant neighbourhood called Husby in reaction to allegations of police brutality.
In 2012, Sweden's culture minister was
of racism for cutting a cake in the form of a naked black woman.
Y&W.TV | Race Storm: Swedish Minister Eating a Black Cakeyungandwavey
In another incident, a student was
for complaining about a slave auction enactment at a university dinner. Posters of him as a slave in shackles that read, "This is our
nigger slave and he answers to the name Jallow Momodou. If you should find him please call this number," were plastered around the university.
In recent years, Sweden has seen several rallies against racism. In December 2013, around 16,000 Swedes
against racism and Nazism in Stockholm.
to the streets of Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm after Swedish neo-Nazis allegedly attacked several people in March.
Anti-Nazism demonstration in Stockholm today. Sadly #nazism, fascism & racism is on the rise in #Sweden. #svpol
The Stream asked its online community about the impact of the government's decision to remove mentions of race from legislation.
@SaraMJElofsson @ElleDubG @S_Beshir sure, by eliminating the term race, structural racism in rendered invisible & thereby sustainedSamson Beshir
@ElleDubG @AJStream prejudice exists because race is still relevant. Denying race won't eliminate discriminationDeellan
@ElleDubG @AJStream @caaliyo91 I think immigrant communities in Sweden will suffer in the long term from this. Won't have needs met becauseLiam O'Brien
@AJStream Of course the people will not be happy at first because of so called roots and origins,but in the long run equality will ensure .Yusuf Abba
@ElleDubG @AJStream I think anti racism groups will have a harder time being taken seriously about race based discrimination.Suleiman
@AJStream Swedens reputation abroad is romanticised. Racism is common here, which may come as a surprise to some.Sarah Bitamazire
@ElleDubG @AJStream Race is a social construct, but denying it's existence won't solve the problem of racism that has been institutionalizedAditi Bhargava
@ElleDubG But to sum up, regardless of how much we dispise the concept of race, it is still a reallity for those living with the oppression.Pontus Blüme
@ElleDubG @AJStream a law is only written. Combatting racism is through thoughts and actions only humanity can carry out #swedenSami Fanik