Nima Gholam Ali Pour, an Iranian-born member of the Sweden Democrats (SD) party who represents the municipality of Malmö in the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag), is co-founder of the Perspective on Israel organization and author of two Swedish books on the subject of immigration: Why Multiculturalism is Oppression and Allah Does Not Decide in Sweden. Pour spoke to a March 17th Middle East Forum Webinar (video) in an interview with Benjamin Baird, director of MEF Action, the Forum's grassroots advocacy initiative, about the Swedish government's failed immigration policy and the Sweden Democrats' proposal to change it. The following is a summary of his comments:
The Sweden to which Gholam Ali Pour and his family immigrated in 1987 after fleeing political persecution in Iran differs markedly from today's nation. Whereas previously the native Swedish population had a "positive attitude" towards the migrants, the current critical attitude is due to the prevalence of culturally and ethnically segregated areas, populated by immigrants, that are violent and crime-ridden. Frequent muggings, gang violence, shootings, and even exploding bombs are a result of failed liberal migration policies that have injured many innocent bystanders.
Politicians exacerbated the problem by encouraging multiculturalism while ignoring the escalating social and cultural problems, many of which are connected to unemployment. A notable byproduct of the policy failures that now dominate public life in Sweden is the spread of Islamization. Promoted by the "leftist establishment" narrative that "Islam is part of the Swedish cultural heritage," multiculturalists ignore the fact that there was no mosque in Sweden prior to 1976. Challenging these falsehoods earns you the left's denunciation and being labeled a "racist or [an] Islamophobe."
Many Swedes understand that Islam is a foreign religion, so they are puzzled as to why state agencies in many municipalities provide funds to Islamic organizations to celebrate Islamic holidays. These organizations network with political parties in Sweden that in turn boost their political influence. The SD's influence has increased because of its focus on the migration crisis, which other parties ignore. For example, the SD addresses the problem of "honor violence," the existence of which other parties deny.
The SD has evolved from being an "anti-establishment party" to a pragmatic establishment party supported by ethnic Swedes as well as migrants. Those migrants who have integrated into society and hold down steady jobs are "upset about the liberal migration policy and how it has affected their lives." SD supporters are upset that migrants arriving in Sweden "get citizenship and then go on welfare."
Along with three other government parties, the SD negotiated the Tidö Agreement, which proposes to strengthen border controls and restrict illegal immigration. It is designed to affect the municipalities and the different organizations that provide economic support for the illegal migrants who remain in Sweden. Thus, it stipulates that these entities can report illegal immigrants to the police so that they can be forced to leave Sweden. In policing, there are "[special] challenge areas" in the Muslim majority neighborhoods where the police are "instructed to go en masse" to tackle crime.
Under the agreement, asylum seekers must remain in a transit center for processing, and if asylum is denied, the migrant will be deported. Foreigners can also be deported for "bad behavior" to make Sweden safer since some asylum seekers commit crimes. Foreigners who receive permits to stay in Sweden will have to qualify for the Swedish welfare system in order to receive benefits. There will be a set period during which the foreigner will have to "work and pay taxes," because many asylum seekers are actually "economic migrants." This policy will cut the number of such migrants.
A migrant can currently become a Swedish citizen after five years, or eight years without proof of identity. The Tidö Agreement increases the five-year term to eight, and foreigners will be required to learn about Swedish society and learn the Swedish language. Although the agreement is designed to reduce the flow of migrants, Sweden has "bigger problems" because many people have become citizens, but "they're not a part of the Swedish society." Solving this problem requires a more "effective integration policy." Yet, the country's challenges by the situation in Malmö, where instead of speaking Swedish, "90 percent of the students in our elementary school talk Arabic with each other."
The waves of immigration cannot continue without damaging Sweden's national identity and values. For some areas in Sweden, it is too late to reverse the damage because of the difficulty of integrating an entire Islamic community. An example is a mall in Gothenburg, where sales of Arabic literature and items geared towards the Middle East proliferate. If the current Muslim migration policy remains, "in five to ten years it will be too late."
Native Swedes want to restrict legal immigration because of the problems the current policy has created. If legal migration does not affect "the national identity" of Sweden and will not increase crime, people will support it. On the other hand, the current policy where "legal immigration ... is too liberal" brings "crime and social problems" that have made the Social Democrat's proposals prominent. "And if the Muslim immigration continues, Sweden's national identity will be extremely changed. And that's going on right now."
Marilyn Stern is communications coordinator at the Middle East Forum.