STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – The scene of Sweden’s worst riots in years, Husby is on the surface at least a typically neat suburb of colorful playgrounds, manicured parks and low rise apartment buildings.
Conversations with residents of this immigrant neighborhood soon bring tales of fruitless job hunts, police harassment, racial taunts and a feeling of living at the margins that are at odds with Sweden’s reputation for openness and tolerance. Riots that began in Husby have spread across Stockholm over the last four nights in scenes reminiscent of London in 2011 and Paris in 2005 – outbursts with their roots in segregation, neglect and poverty. The Swedish model of welfare – such as its 480 days of parental leave for each child – hides another side.
Some 15 percent of the population is foreign born, the highest in the Nordic region. The rise of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party, which has called for a curfew in response to the violence, has polarized Swedes.