Tag Archives: Sweden

Is Speedy Better Than Slow Road To Citizenship?

A government proposal to offer performance-based bonuses to immigrants who complete a state-funded language course within one year has raised many concerns among teachers and students. If students pass the highest level of the Sevenska for Invandrare within a year they would receive a financial reward. However, instructors and students are leery that speed is better than allowing students to progress at their own pace. All agree the goal is for students to become proficient in the Swedish language so they can enter the job market, but some believe pushing the pace is a mistake. According to Annika Wall, an instructor, very few students have the ability to complete all SFI courses within a year. “Those who struggle have difficulties and struggle for years aren’t going to be helped by the smartest getting money.”

There is fear acceleration only adds pressure to teachers and students. My parents were uneducated immigrants who took several years before they gained mastery of the English language. During this period my father worked and gradually learned English as did millions of other immigrants. Speed is not the solution, learning a language and being able to use it are the goals. So what if it takes some a few years to gain the mastery?

Did Sweden Assist US Rendition Program?

The right wing media continually decries “socialism” as a concept which is antithetical to the fight against terrorism and insists socialists are soft on al-Qaeda and other such groups. It now appears the Social Democrat government of Sweden actively assisted the American rendition program which secreted men accused of being terrorists in foreign jails. Two prominent left wing Swedish legislators are calling for an investigation how Swedish authorities knew the CIA was landing planes in Sweden that carried suspect terror suspects on their voyage to a prison. Hans Linde and Alice Astrom argued: “in this situation, one would expect a strong protest from the Swedish government,” but the government remained silent about CIA operations in their nation.

The ironic aspect of their protest is that information concerning the CIA rendition program in Sweden has been reported by the media while the government remains silent. The legislators want a full scale investigation as to why Parliament did not investigate rumors and allowed their national territory to be used in clandestine spy operations.

Should Accused Rapist Have To Prove Consent?

Two legal experts are suggesting an interesting revision of Swedish criminal law that would compel a person charged with rape of a woman to prove that he had her consent before engaging in sex. Eva Diesen, a lawyer, and Christian Diesen, a professor of criminal law, examined 1,200 rape reports and presented their findings under the heading: “Attacks Against Women and Children.” Since 1965, when Sweden first enacted a sex crime law, about 100 to 200 rapists have been convicted each year, but the number of rapes that were reported has increased from about 300 to 5,000. The two argue that rape should be classified as a violation of personal integrity rather than a violent crime. The law at present says a woman is sexually available until she says no or puts up resistance.

The argument that a man must prove he did something to ensure the woman was consenting to sex raises many legal and moral issues. It certainly shifts the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused. The entire issue is already a gray area of confusion as male and female argue as to whether or not consent was given. Perhaps, we need a process of determining the meaning of consent or no consent.

Amnesty International-Swedish Rapists Not Punished

Sweden enjoys a reputation as a nation in which women have extensive equal rights and attain high positions in virtually all sectors of society. It has always been a nation who is a leader in the fight for gender equity, but for some reason on the issue of rape, their record is one of indifference to the plight of women. An Amnesty General report on rape in Nordic countries blasted Sweden for the number of rapes reported and the number of convictions for rape. The number of of convictions today is lower than what it was thirty years ago. It is also estimated that only five to ten percent of rapes are ever reported to the police since, apparently, many women do not believe any action will be taken other than subjecting them to publicity and embarrassment.

The evidence appears to suggest that women who were drunk when forced into sex have a difficult time proving it was rape rather than consensual. The fear of public shame is quite strong among educated Swedish women and they lag in reporting sexual assaults. It is now statistically more likely for a person in Sweden to be sexually assaulted than robbed.

Swedish Gays Wait On Church Approval

The Swedish parliament’s new law which grants gays and lesbians the right to have a legal marriage came into effect on May 1st but there will be a delay in making the law operational until the Lutheran Church which was the state church until 2000 makes a decision as to whether the church will sanction such marriages. According to a church official: “the new law implies a change in the marriage ceremony, and the Church has to be given a chance to take a stand on that.” However, he also noted there has been no evidence that gays or lesbians are rushing to the Lutheran Church in order to get married.

Most probably the delay stems from historic reasons and does not reflect an attempt to circumvent the law. One can assume that many gays and lesbians have no interest in having a church ceremony and certainly non-Christians couldn’t care less. Gays and lesbians have waited for years so, hopefully, a few more months will be endurable.

Attack Of The Robots In Sweden!

Many years ago, the great science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov predicted there would come a day when robots revolted against their human masters. The first incident in the eventual rebellion took place in June, 2007 when an industrial worker tried to carry out maintenance on a defective machine when a robot suddenly came to life, grabbed a tight hold of the man’s head and broke four ribs before the human could break free. The company was fined for allowing its robots to attack humans.

However, this reporter was able to interview the Robot who goes by the name of DX1. His account differed from that presented by the human. According to DX1, he was minding his business doing the dirty hard work humans refuse to handle when he was suddenly assaulted by this human who sprayed oil into his face. His natural reaction was to defend himself and inadvertently seized hold of the human’s head. DX1 made clear his co-Robot worker group are tired of being treated as second class citizens and eventually will attempt legal action in order to obtain their civil rights. If that fails, said DX1, then….. and his voice trailed off.

Sweden Backs Turkey For European Union

There is an ongoing dispute as to whether Turkey is an Asian or a European nation, but the Swedish government made clear it wants Turkey to become a member of the European Union. Prime Minister Fredrick Reinfeldt said “Sweden fully supports Turkey’s bid to join the European Union… Turkey belongs to Europe.” However, he urged that Turkey could assist its own desire to join the EU by working to resolve problems on the divided island of Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into a Muslim and a Christian nation. Most nations recognize the Greek Cypriot state but few recognize the Turkish Cypriot state. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan warned hard line Turk Cypriots not to create problems that would impair his nation’s ability to enter the EU.

Turkey faces many issues in obtaining membership in the EU. There is fear of allowing a predominant Muslim nation into the group so it is important for Erdogan to find a way to resolve the Cypriot division in such a manner that respects the rights of both groups. Unless he does something, it seriously damages the ability of Turkey to be treated as a European nation.

Sweden Boycotts Racism Conference

Sweden has decided not to send any official representatives to the UN conference on racism that will be hold in South Africa. A major problem for many countries was the initial paper which presented issues to be discussed and since only Israel was cited as a violator of human rights it did raise questions as to the composition of those deciding what could be discussed. However, Swedish Integration Minister Nyamko Subini said her country wanted to “send clear signals about what is acceptable, in this case, we are not going to legitimise the non-democratic powers in place at the ministerial level.” She was concerned that opponents of human rights such as President Ahmadinejad of Iran will be a dominant figure at the conference.

Although, one can sympathize with her views, in the marketplace of ideas the best approach is to confront those like the Iranian president who is a hypocrite on human rights by citing in public the continued violations of rights in his country. Similar views could be expressed about religious fanatics in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan who abuse the rights of non-Muslims.

Swedish Social Democrats Secret Bigots!

A radio station planted three of its people in local chapters of the Swedish Social Democrats in order to discover what they thought about immigrants. Outwardly, the Social Democrats have been championing the rights of immigrants, but reporters quickly found out the real thinking of these supposed defenders of human rights. During one-third of the meetings attended by the undercover journalists, members of the Social Democrats made racist or anti-immigrant remarks. Among the comments were statements that immigrants were not loyal to the country of Sweden, they did not want to pay taxes and they would rather take black-market jobs. “Those who come from these countries,” said one laughing Social Democrat, “they’re pretty raw and real savages…it’s in their nature.”

A member of the Swedish parliament claimed immigrants from Afghanistan had “2,000 parasites on their body. Not even our dogs have that many.” Naturally, the Swedish Democratic Party argued the comments were taken out of context and they were few in number.

Yes, it is the fault of those damn reporters for reporting what was said!!

Sweden Works At Integration Of Immigrants

Among the remarkable aspects of world wide immigration since the end of World War II has been the influx of thousands of people from African and Middle Eastern nations into Nordic societies. in the Swedish city of Malmo about 86% of those living in a suburb are first or second generation immigrants. As Americans quite understand the arrival of strangers from far off nations whose skin is darker than typical Swedes has resulted in a white flight. Anis, an immigrant from Bosnia, comments: “when I first got here fifteen years ago, I had Swedish neighbors. Today, there isn’t a single one left. Several who were interviewed in The Local argued the departure of native born Swedes has opened the door for a small but active group of fundamentalist Muslims to exert power in the area.

Maxine Camara, who heads Rosengard’s refugee welcome committe, laments that Islamic militants are able to obtain support since so many people are under-employed and have tales of prejudice. “A lot of young people here are out of work. Their parents don’t work, and they get their only social interaction in the Islamic millieu, which complicates integration.” Integration requires opportunity to work, to interact with people of diverse backgrounds and to become an active member of the community.

Both sides claim the other is at fault which is the norm when dealing with issues of integration of immigrants. Step one, as always, is securing meaningful work for those seeking employment and for schools that are successful with all students.