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.