Swedish Minister: Authorities Failed to Tackle Crime Because They 'Didn't Want to Be Seen as Racist'

Swedish Interior Minister Mikael Damberg has admitted that some of the country's burgeoning gang-related problems were not properly tackled before due to the authorities' fear of being seen as racist.

The recent uptick in gangland violence, setting Sweden apart from its EU peers, has triggered a national debate on immigration amid reports that highlighted immigrants' overrepresentation in crime.

"Before, there was an anxiety to describe some problems, they did not want to be seen as racist and so on", Damberg told the newspaper Aftonbladet.

Now, he ventured, society has ripened for a debate about problems linked to large-scale immigration, including gang-related crime. Damberg identified growing segregation as one of the underlying causes of Sweden's organised crime, alongside an insufficient police presence which allowed drug sales and gangs to take over.

The recent uptick in gangland violence, which goes against EU trends, triggered a national debate, as reports have highlighted immigrants' overrepresentation in crime, which the authorities long refused to address and discuss. Even the very mapping of criminals' ethnicity was considered unethical and hasn't been performed for decades.

Earlier, renowned journalists Ivar Arpi and Adam Cwejman penned a book called "How We All Became Racists", in which they argued that the current debate climate made it difficult to shed light on and discuss topics such as anti-Semitism among immigrants, racism between immigrants, honour culture, and crime.

Damberg, however, mentioned an ideological swing within the ruling party, as the current list of the Social Democrats' proposals calls for increased penalties and includes more tools for the police, as well as stricter social measures. Among other things, the party wants to legalise the eviction of criminals to clean up segregated residential districts, many of which are in the national registry of "exposed" and "particularly exposed" areas some refer to as "no-go zones."

Aside from this, Damberg, emphasised that the recent negative developments within organised crime must be reversed.

"It is incredibly provocative that people who have never earned an honest krona and never paid taxes can still drive around in expensive cars and have gold chains around their necks. These people become role models in suburban areas, this is how you make a career," he mused. "It is not a human right to terrorise one's neighbours," he added.

In recent years, spiralling gang-related blasts and shootouts have become a national problem in Sweden. According to the Moderate Party, the largest in the opposition, in the last four years alone, more than 150 people have been killed in over 1,100 shootings. The Swedish police estimated some 5,000 gang members to be active in vulnerable areas across Sweden and counted some 40 criminal clans, several of which settled in Sweden from abroad solely for the purpose of committing crimes.

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