Friday , November 26, 2004
MALMO, Sweden —Swedish authorities in the southern city of Malmo (search) have been busy with a sudden influx of Muslim immigrants — 90 percent of whom are unemployed and many who are angry and taking it out on the country that took them in.
"If we park our car it will be damaged — so we have to go very often in two vehicles, one just to protect the other vehicle," said Rolf Landgren, a Malmo police officer.
Fear of violence has changed the way police, firemen and emergency workers do their jobs.
There are some neighborhoods Swedish ambulance drivers will not go to without a police escort. Angry crowds have threatened them, telling them which patient to take and which ones to leave behind.
Because Sweden has some of the most liberal asylum laws in Europe, one quarter of Malmo's 250,000 population is now Muslim, changing the face and the idea of what it means to be Swedish. Asylum seekers may bring spouses, brothers and grandparents with them. Civil servants say the city is swamped.
"You have 1,000 students in a Swedish school. How many are Swedes? Two," said Lars Birgersson, principal of the Rosengrad School.
Students arrive at age 10 or 12 from countries like Iraq, Iran and Lebanon with no knowledge of Swedish; some have never been to school at all and many classes require interpreters.
Still, more than half won't graduate.
"They are not a part of Swedish society, so to speak. It is difficult for them to get inside society," said Torsten Elofsson of the Malmo Police Department.
However, they are the most rapidly growing segment of Swedish society — outsiders who are already inside, posing a challenge to legendary Swedish tolerance that has now been stretched to the breaking point.
Malmo's main mosque was recently set ablaze by arsonists. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they were attacked by stone throwers.
Editor's Note: This is part two of a four-part series about the Muslim population in Europe. Tomorrow's installment of this series will focus on how Islamic extremists are recruiting young would-be terrorists in European suburbs.