On the heels of an election that stunned many in this famously progressive land, Kent Ekeroth and his peers marched through the castle-like parliament doors this month on a mission to combat what they call Sweden’s greatest problem: Muslim immigration.
The 20 Swedish Democrats – the first national lawmakers from a party initially spawned in the 1980s by white supremacists – are working to impose a moratorium on new mosques, ban the shroud-like coverings worn by some conservative Muslim women and largely halt immigration from predominantly Muslim nations.
Alarm over the anti-immigrant wave intensified recently as authorities warned “dark-skinned” residents in the southern city of Malmo that one or more snipers are targeting immigrants, killing one and wounding eight in 15 separate shootings this year.
The rise to office of the Swedish Democrats in September’s elections touched off a heated debate in this country, home of the Nobel Prize and known as the “conscience of the world” for aiding refugees and pioneering laws for women’s equality and gay rights. Yet even here, the Swedish Democrats made it into the Rikstag by tapping into a surge of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment sweeping across many nations in Western Europe, propelling right-wing and nationalist parties to their biggest gains in years.
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