NYT Gets Around to Reporting on Sweden’s Immigrant Crime Problem, Leaves out a Few Key Details
The New York Times published a report Sunday on Sweden’s growing problem with immigrant gangs — more than a year after the paper chided President Donald Trump for calling attention to the same worrisome development.
Entitled “Hand Grenades and Gang Violence Rattle Sweden’s Middle Class,” the report examines how weapons of war and clan-like violence have accompanied an influx of immigrants from certain parts of Europe and the greater Middle East.
The story centers on the death of a man in the town of Varby Gard, a once tranquil Stockholm suburb that is now the home base of an increasingly destructive immigrant gang. He was killed in early January when he picked up a mysterious object lying in the street that turned out to be a live hand grenade. The device exploded when he touched it, killing him instantly.
It was one of more than 100 incidents involving military-grade explosives in the Stockholm metro area that police have attributed to an “arms race” among immigrant gangs, reports The NYT. There were only a few such incidents in Sweden until 2014, but since then, the number of explosions and seizures of grenades has shot up and remained worryingly high.
The police seized 45 grenades in 2015, while 10 others were detonated in public, according to Stockholm Police. The next year, 55 were seized and 35 detonated. A modest decrease occurred in 2017, when 39 were seized and 21 exploded.
Though TheNYT readily reported on the nature of the violence, it was somewhat more circumspect about its origin. Nowhere in the story do the words “Muslim” or “refugee” appear. The only mention of the word “asylum” is to describe a witness to the explosion, one of many Varby Gard residents who arrived there thanks to Sweden’s famously open asylum policies.
The fact is that Sweden’s spike in gang violence and certain categories of crime coincided with the resettlement of more than 100,000 asylum seekers from predominantly Muslim nations beginning in 2014.
Sexual violence has been a particular problem, according to Swedish government statistics released earlier this year. The percentage of women who reported being victims of sex crimes rose from 1.4 percent in 2012 to 4.1 percent in 2016. And a 2014 study on the geography of outdoor rape in Stockholm found two-thirds of the suspects were non-Swedish citizens, according to Sunday Times correspondent Bojan Pancevski, who has reported extensively from Sweden’s immigrant communities.
TheNYT could be taking its cues on reporting on immigrant gang violence from prevailing attitudes in Sweden, where it is taboo to link immigrants and crime. Sweden has long prided itself on its openness to multiculturalism, and its government is not shy about investigating those who suggest particular ethnic or religious groups are causing problems.
A veteran police officer was investigated in 2017 for inciting racial hatred after he authored a popular Facebook post describing how the violent crimes he was investigating were committed by immigrants from “Iraq, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Somalia, Syria again, Somalia, unknown country, unknown country, Sweden.”
Trump drew criticism from several American media outlets for making a similar observation in February 2017, when during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference he linked mass Muslim immigration to crime in Sweden. Among those outlets was TheNYT, which responded with a report quoting indignant Swedish government officials aghast at Trump’s insinuation that their immigration policies could be responsible for a spike in assault and sexual crimes.
TheNYT is now reporting on the same phenomenon it sought to downplay in its story on Trump’s blunt remarks, as Washington Examiner political correspondent Byron York noted Sunday.
Last year, when Fox News and Trump noted Sweden's immigrant crime problem, NYT pushed back. Now, NYT reports on Sweden's immigrant crime problem. https://t.co/Wo753MCjtd and https://t.co/aPz5IKKMYo pic.twitter.com/H0pHXfNefc— Byron York (@ByronYork) March 4, 2018
Ironically, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who criticized Trump’s comments last year, is now entertaining extraordinary measures to address the immigrant gang violence described in TheNYT’s latest dispatch. In January, he said he would do “whatever is necessary” to combat the gangs, including deploying the military to Swedish cities for additional security, according to Reuters.