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IMMIGRATION

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday 

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Tuesday with The Local’s short roundup of important news. 

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday 
Oslo Operahus. Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

Child’s body washed ashore identified 

The body of a 15-month old boy who washed ashore near Karmøy in southwest Norway has been identified as that of a child named Artin, who died alongside his relatives while attempting to cross the Channel from France into the United Kingdom. 

Artin’s body was found on New Year’s Day more than two months after the vessel carrying the rest of his family sank. The boat was carrying around 20 refugees in total. 

“We didn’t have a missing baby reported in Norway, and no family had contacted the police,” Camilla Tjelle Waage, the head of police investigations, told BBC News.  

Artin had a relative in Norway that allowed forensic scientists at Oslo University Hospital to match the DNA profiles of him and the relative to confirm his identity. 

“This has been a painstaking process, but we are pleased we have now received confirmation that this is the missing boy who was found on Karmøy. This story is tragic, but then it is at least good to give his surviving relatives an answer,” Waage said in a statement. 

READ ALSO: Body found in Oslo flat nine years after death 

His remaining family have been notified, and his remains are to be flown back to Iran to be buried. 

Six out of seven Norwegian dog breeds facing extinction 

Only one of Norway’s seven native dog breeds is not threatened with extinction. The other six are facing extinction, despite ten years of efforts to try and revive the breeds. 

The only Norwegian dog breed not in danger of disappearing is the Grey Norwegian Elkhound. 

“We are the country of origin of these dogs, and we have a special responsibility to the UN to preserve these dogs,” Odd Vangen, professor of livestock breeding and genetics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), told state broadcaster NRK.

The dog breeds endangered are the Hygen Hound, Norwegian Bunhund, Black Norwegian Elkhound, Norwegian Dunker, Norwegian Puffin Hound and the Halden Hound. 

According to Vangen, these dogs are facing extinction because they are working dogs and not bred for companionship. Many of the breeds are bred for hunting, but populations are dwindling due to a lack of hunters and hunting areas. 

NIPH ditches test concerts 

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has dropped its proposed test concert scheme after Oslo City Council said it would not host any events. 

“It is not worth carrying the concerts out if the only place we can host them in Bergen. The project is dead and buried,” Atle Fretheim, project manager for the scheme, told paper Bergens Tidende

The government had initially given the test concerts the go-ahead at the end of May to research whether rapid testing of the public could reduce the risk of infection. 

249 Covid-19 cases in Norway 

On Monday, 249 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Norway, a decrease of 36 compared to the seven day average of 286. 

In Oslo, 66 new cases of infection were registered, 19 fewer infections than the seven-day average. 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 1.0. This means that every ten people that are infected will, on average, only infect another ten people, indicating that the infection level is stable. 

Total number of Covid-19 cases so far. Source: NIPH

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

OPINION: The far right now dominates the immigration debate in Sweden

A televised debate between the party leaders last weekend showed how Sweden’s third party, the far-right Sweden Democrats, has shaped Swedish politics since the last elections four years ago, argues David Crouch

OPINION: The far right now dominates the immigration debate in Sweden

In the build-up to the 2018 elections, the world’s media descended on Stockholm, expecting a breakthrough by the Sweden Democrats (SD) who had been polling as high as 25 percent. In the end, SD took third place with around 18 percent of the vote.

Four years later, SD are hovering at around the same level in the polls. However, Swedish politics has been utterly transformed, as the other main parties have moved onto political terrain previously occupied by SD.

This would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. When they first entered parliament, SD were treated as political pariahs, a racist party, held at arm’s length by the other parties who refused to cooperate with them in any way.

Attempts to bring the SD into the mainstream of Swedish politics fell flat. The leader of the centre-right Moderates lost her job after suggesting it was “time to stop demonising” the SD. Her replacement, Ulf Kristersson, said he would neither negotiate nor govern with them. After the elections, two smaller centre-right parties – the Centre and the Liberals – agreed to prop up the coalition of Social Democrats and Greens to prevent the SD gaining any influence in parliament.

It was clear, however, that the only chance for the centre-right to govern would be with SD support. After all, in Finland and Norway right-wing populist parties had entered government with the centre right. And in Denmark, the centre-right had governed with populist support. If it worked there, why not in Sweden?

In early 2019, the SD leader Jimmie Åkesson famously had meatballs for lunch with Ebba Busch, the leader of the tiny Christian Democrats, who acted as a bridge-builder. A few months later, Kristersson met the SD leader for the first time in his Stockholm office. By early 2021 the cordon sanitaire dividing the parties had been truly dismantled, and in the autumn the three parties presented a joint budget.

Meanwhile, the Moderates stepped up their rhetoric against immigration and crime. But perhaps the influence has worked both ways? Maybe the far-right have toned down their policies, compromising with the centre so the parties can work together?

On the contrary, Åkesson and other leading SD figures have stoked up the fire and brimstone in their anti-immigrant message. For the SD, the problem is dark-skinned immigrants from Muslim countries whose values conflict with Sweden’s and who should therefore be deported.

The response among the Moderates – and also the governing Social Democrats – has been a deafening silence.

After the Easter riots in six Swedish cities, the Social Democrat government proposed a package of coercive measures to help the police and social services crackdown on criminals.

A televised debate between the party leaders last weekend brought this out very clearly. More than that, it showed how the Sweden Democrats have shaped Swedish politics since the country last voted four years ago.

In the debate on Sunday, prime minister Magdalena Andersson talked about being tough on crime and boasted that Sweden now has one of the strictest immigration regimes in Europe.

It was left to the Green Party (polling 4 percent) and the Centre Party (6 percent) to challenge the SD on immigration. They pointed out that the violent minority is tiny, and that tens of thousands of recent immigrants hold down jobs, obey the law and contribute to Swedish society.

Centre Party leader Annie Lööf listed some of the SD’s more extreme proposals, including demolition of high-immigration neighbourhoods, dawn raids on refugees, and collective punishment for crimes committed by a single family member. This was “pure racism”, Lööf said – where were the “red lines”, beyond which the centre-right would turn against the SD?

All the parties agree that segregation along ethnic lines has gone too far in Sweden, that integration efforts have failed and that something must be done. But there is a paucity of bold ideas that could really make a difference.

Immigration will once more be a battleground at the elections in September, with key politicians competing to be the toughest in dealing with unruly “foreigners”. Meanwhile, the underlying problems that have fuelled disaffection among people with immigrant backgrounds are unlikely to be addressed.

A few weeks ago, Swedish journalist Janne Josefsson spoke to Ahmed, one of the stone-throwing youngsters who shocked the country at Easter.

“We are second class citizens. You let us in, but then Sweden doesn’t care about us,” Ahmed told him. “We are trapped here. I have studied, but will never get a good job. At least once a week we are stopped by the police. In the end, you feel hunted, like a quarry. Do you understand?”

It seems that Swedish politicians don’t really want to.

David Crouch is the author of Almost Perfekt: How Sweden Works and What Can We Learn From It. He is a freelance journalist and a lecturer in journalism at Gothenburg University.

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Listen to a discussion on Sweden and immigration on Sweden in Focus, The Local’s podcast. 

Click HERE to listen to Sweden in Focus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

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