Sweden's far-right tells migrants in Greece: 'Don't bother coming'
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"No money, no jobs, no homes." That's the blunt message that a right-wing Swedish group is trying to get across to migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. These Swedes travelled all the way to the island, a major point of entry for thousands of refugees, to try to discourage migrants from attempting to reach their country.
A flyer containing the message was found last Friday by volunteers for an NGO called Gränslöst mänskligt (Humanity Without Limits) on the island of Lesbos, where 125,000 migrants arrived last month alone.
The leaftlet says:
You might have heard positive things about our country and the Swedish people. That we are friendly, generous and hardworking. This might be true, but our society is falling apart. Our wealth is gone [...] Due to decades of mass immigration our previously safe country is not safe anymore [...] Halal slaughter, wearing niqabs or burqas in public spaces will be forbidden in our country.
The back of the flyer features photos of makeshift beds on the ground, along with the sarcastic message, "Welcome to Sweden!" It is signed by the Sweden Democrats (SD), a right-wing party considered to be the third-most powerful political force in the country.
"It's very troubling to see a right-wing party come all the way to Greece just to intimidate migrants"Charbel Gabro is a member of the Swedish NGO that found the leaflets on Lesbos.
A few migrants brought us four similar leaflets. They found them in their camp, inside their sleeping bags. Yet bizarrely, they never saw anyone enter and put them there. Most of them didn't pay any attention to the leaflet; they knew that it was just propaganda.
I think I was more shocked than they were! These people signed the leaflets, 'The people of Sweden.' But in whose name are they making these generalisations? Their arguments are nothing more than a pack of lies. On top of that, media outlets have been having a field day repudiating each and every point, with figures at hand. It's very troubling to see that these people are ready to come all the way to Greece just to spread their lies.
I'm Syrian myself. I fled my country in 1986 and I found asylum in Sweden. I was welcomed with open arms, and now I feel Swedish. I feel that it's important for me to speak to these migrants about my experience in order to reassure them, and to fight back against this strategy of fear.
Charbel Garbo went to Lesbos last week to meet with Syrian migrants.
After days of ambiguous responses to questions about these leaflets, Sweden Democrats spokesperson Joakim Wallerstein said that "between 20 and 30" members of his party were spread out in "17 towns in six countries" on the European Union’s borders. However, his party avoided confirming whether they had published the tracts. Despite that, on Wednesday the SD used its Facebook page to publish a photo showing three members of the party posing with the leaflets in front of the offices of Serbia's branch of the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees (UNHCR).