A car on fire in the Stockholm suburb of Husby. Photo published on Google+ by Salah Moallin.
For the past five nights, hundreds of young people have rioted in the suburbs of Stockholm, torching cars and clashing with police. Our Observer, who lives in Husby, the low-income suburb where the riots first broke out, thinks the root of the violence is the local youths' sense of social exclusion.
It appears the violence first broke out in response to the police’s killing of a 69-year-old Husby resident, who they say was threatening his wife and wielding a machete. This incidents prompted accusations of police brutality, which led to protests in the suburb on Wednesday, followed by riots.
Since then, the violence has spread to other suburbs both north and south of the capital. In addition to burning cars, rioters have attacked stores, schools, an arts and crafts centre, and a police station.
“I understand why many people who live in these suburbs … are worried, upset...” Sweden’s Justice Minister, Beatrice Ask, said Wednesday. “Social exclusion is a very serious cause of many problems, we understand that.”
For decades, the Swedish government gave out generous welfare benefits, but since the 1990s, it has been cutting back on these. This has given rise to a rapid growth in inequality
. Sweden has also struggled to resolve its long-term unemployment rate, which has hit the country’s sizeable immigrant population the hardest. The majority of Husby’s population is made up of first and second-generation immigrants and asylum-seekers, mainly from Turkey, Lebanon, Somalia, and Syria.
Riots spread to the suburb of Edsburg on Wednesday. Video courtesy of Jonas Santos Hansson.