The shooting in Sweden this week has led to growing concerns over gang related violence and mass shootings in the once-peaceful country. The greater Gothenburg area, Sweden’s second largest city, has a history of gang violence and shootings, with a quarter of Sweden’s homicides in 2013 occurring there. The Biskopsgarden suburb has a particularly unsavory reputation. ABC News reports Gothenburg police chief Klas Friberg’s comments on the day of the shooting.
“We have a serious situation in Goteborg where many people have been murdered. We have different types of criminal gangs who… are ready to use aggravated violence in retribution attacks or to win market share.”
There are also concerns that Swedish anti-immigration groups may attempt to connect the recent increase in shootings, and this shooting in particular, to alleged ISIS activities in Sweden, as recruitment grows in areas with high immigrant populations.
“The Swedish security service said Wednesday that about 250 people have left Sweden for Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State group and other al-Qaida inspired groups. Many, though not all, were recruited in immigrant neighborhoods in Sweden’s main cities, including Goteborg.”
Some twitter users are certainly sounding the alarm.
— Raven*H♔U*Wolf (@RavenHUWolf) March 18, 2015
But Swedish police spokesperson Ulla Brehm says the neighbourhood is known for its gang presence and the attacks are unrelated to terrorism.
“There is absolutely nothing that indicates terrorism,” Brehm said. “The problems are the same here in Sweden as internationally,”
The Goteborg Daily reported on a 2014 report on xenophobia and racism in Sweden from the University of Gothenburg’s SOM Institute that found nearly 80 percent of Swedes are concerned that xenophobia is on the rise, while just under half (49 percent) think that Sweden should admit fewer immigrants, and 44 percent consider that the number of refugees to Sweden should be limited. That’s a significant decrease from 1992 when 65 percent believed that more refugees should be stopped from entering the country. Marie Demker is a professor of political science at Gothenburg University, and spoke with Radio Sweden.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the Swedish population is more concerned about the attitudes towards refugees and immigrants, than they are concerned about the refugees and immigrants themselves,” said Marie Demker.
— Nathalie Rothschild (@n_rothschild) February 28, 2015
The shooting took place in a popular bar late Wednesday while patrons were watching a football game. Two people were killed and fifteen were wounded when masked gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons. Eight of the wounded are still hospitalized as Swedish Prime Minister and other mourners visit Biskopsgarden to lay flowers, and Sweden attempts to come to terms with the tragedy.
A police investigation is ongoing.
[Image from Bengt Nyman/Wikimedia]