Wed, May 29, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Stockholm ‘back to normal’ after riots, police say

UNEASY PEACE:The past week of riots in largely immigrant neighborhoods has touched off debate about the often difficult integration of immigrants

AFP, Stockholm

A handful of cars were torched in Stockholm’s immigrant-dominated suburbs early yesterday, but police said that otherwise, the situation had returned to normal after a week of riots and unrest.

“Now we’re back to normal. There was no rioting, and only a few torched cars, under 10,” Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said.

There were no reports of unrest in other Swedish towns either.

More than 150 cars and dozens of buildings have been torched in the past week of nightly unrest, which began on May 19 in the Stockholm suburb of Husby, where 80 percent of inhabitants are immigrants.

It was apparently triggered by the police shooting and killing a 69-year-old resident who had wielded a machete in public.

Local activists said the shooting sparked anger among youths, who claim to have suffered from police brutality and racism.

The unrest began to ease significantly on Friday, when police reinforcements were called in from other parts of the country and large groups of volunteers patrolled the streets to deter troublemakers. Given Sweden’s traditional reputation as one of the world’s most tranquil countries, the riots came as a surprise to many foreigners.

Among Swedes themselves, the violence sparked debate over the integration of immigrants, many of whom arrive under the country’s generous asylum policies and who now make up about 15 percent of the population.

The Scandinavian country has in recent decades become one of Europe’s top destinations for immigrants and asylum seekers, both in absolute numbers and relative to its size.

However, many of them struggle to learn the language and find employment, despite numerous government programs.

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