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Racism in Sweden

June 6, 2020

I live in Sweden and it seem as if most swedish people believe racism doesn't happen here and that everyone is treated equaly. It is not the reality though. Racism in Sweden is very common and frequent. To understand racism in Sweden you must understand swedish people.

First let me state that all swedish people is not racist.


I am half persian and half swedish. I can pass as a brunette swede and due to this many swedish people believe I am "one of them" and this let me hear and see things most immigrants or people of color might not. But it didn't begin there, it all began from an early age. I wont share all my stories because they are too private but I will share a few to give you an idea of how bad it is in Sweden.

Common things said when I am with swedish people (not friends).
* All these immigrants come here and steal our jobs
* All these immigrants come here and ruin our economy by living on benefits
* Immigrants only causes violance, rapes, murder and chaos
* They are taking over our schools and daycares
* I can't believe they force the woman to wear hijabs, even the girls
* Muslim women are not allowed to drive, work, have a voice or leave the house without the man
* Women from middle east have no rights, all they do is stay at home and cook and raise the children
* Muslim women are abused
* Muslims are terrorists
* Iran is a terrorist country
* Iranians are terrorists
* Describing black people using the n-word

The list is long and never ending so I'll stop there. But here are very common things that also happens. I can be in a room with swedish people and some foreigners. Everyone is talking about everything and nothing and being very nice. The foreigners leave and the whispers begin, hateful and some very racist comments. If one of the foreigners walk in again the swedish people stop talking about it or changes the subject. I can't express how often this happens.

But 3-4 years ago was when I experienced the most horrible racism ever and so much that it physically began to hurt. I started up a two year long study and in a class of, let's say 24 pupils, three of us was from other countries or have parents from other countries. First came my internships. Racism is very prevelent in health care here in Sweden. I found it was mostly nurses. I heard all of the above in my list and more. And I heard things about muslims and the middle east I've never heard before or experienced. So of course I had to ask my mom, because all of this made me so confused. Eight out of ten things was not true.

Iran protests

Many people also believe it is Islam that is the oppressor when it actually is the regime. But the regime is not the people. And then to say that it is Islam or it is in the middle east it happens. No. Abused women, oppressed women, that happens everywhere and is not depended on where you are from. It has to do with the person doing the abuse and the oppression.

And then the discussion about hijabs. The regime forces the hijabs, not the religion. There people who do force their daughters or wives to wear them, yes. But not everyone. It was a heated topic a while back that hijabs should be outlawed in Sweden. Setting a law to forbid it is just as bad as setting a law it is a must. The teacher taught out we had to talk to the husband instead of the woman. What sort of message is that. All I thought was, no I am not changing how I treat my fellow humans. I talk to the one talking to me. If I have a question to the woman I ask the woman and if the man answers so be it. We should talk to the man because if we don't the woman might get a beating at home if we talk to her instead. I'm like, what!

In this class the teacher made it out to be a bad thing to respect your parents (the family culture in Iran) and I never forget the student who said it was a very sad thing and she felt sorry for us. Having to always ask our parents about everything, not being able to think for ourselves. Was it that way she interpreted that? It's about respecting your parents, asking for advice etc. Not often we follow our parents advice though. But trust me, we think for ourselves. Do you know what we don't do? We don't hit our parents, we don't call them names or threaten them with laws, rules or rights. Because we know they are our parents and we respect them, with an attitude of course.

That school destroyed my spirit. Made me sort of seperate me from them. Because from that point I realised how different I am from swedish people and I began not liking how those around me was talking about my family, my culture and my country (Iran). Yeah, I said it. I consider Iran just as much my country as I do Sweden. I might not have been born in Iran and haven't been there in ages but it is still my country. I care about what happens to my family and relatives there, I care about what happens to the people there and I care about what happens to the country!

I used to work in health care and at first I thought the prejudice some of the nurses showed and talked about was sort of fun listening to but later in it began to hurt. It was everyday, on every break. I cried. It fucking hurt. I began avoiding going to the breakroom. I talked with the boss. Only to realise she already knew it was common with racist conversations in the breakroom (my thought was, so nothing had been done about it) but she did have a talk with the people and then it stopped. But one day when I was in the breakroom I heard one of them say. Oh I can't believe someone complained to the boss, just because some feelings was hurt we can't talk about surtain things anymore. No one responded to that. But also that comment is common by racists. "Feelings getting hurt". They have no self awareness of what they are doing.

All of this just made me remember all other things from my past and things I hear from friends and what I see happening when I am outside.

When the protests happened in Iran and people in Iran took to the streets almost no one in the world demonstrated with them. Media was very quiet. People in Iran was beaten, shot, and killed by their own goverment, by their own police. Some swedish people have a tendency to think, it happens there but not here so why care.

Black Lives Matter BLM

Now it's the black lives matter movement. Major demonstrations on a global scale. Yet again swedish people say, it's happening there and not here so why care. Some even believe racism doesn't exist in Sweden and we are treated equaly. I agree that it is not the best times to take it to the streets considering the Covid but, it will never be the right time. Whenever there's a post supporting the demonastrations it's bombarded with comments like: the people taking the streets don't think about the elderly, the sick, the health care workers or to those families who have followed the restrictions or have family who are at risk. Hmm, how does it feel? Yes, it is horrible to say it like that, but remember this feeling, remember that feeling, that anger, the frustration, the hurt. How we feel everytime you do nothing to help us, to support us or to respect us. What you feel now is nothing close to what someone who are effected by racism everyday feels! Racism is constant, everyday of every year during generations. Racism is abuse, emotional, mental and physical abuse. It's out of hate, you hate them because of who they are, what they look like, how they talk, how they act, what they believe in and where they are coming from. You abuse them and their families, children, elderly and country. You think of their worth less then yours. They don't have the same rights as you, they can't do the same things as you or be themselves around you. Everyday in all of their life this happens. They are even murdered because of this hatred, racism.

Racism exists in Sweden, all over Sweden. If you haven't experienced it, good for you! Some Swedish people do show their racism up in our face. Most express it behind closed doors or behind your back. So believe me, racism is more higher then what we actually see. Sadly, most of them don't even realise what they are saying and doing is racist.

Black people have always been treated the worst all over the world. If we can pull them up we can pull more ethnicities up together with them and hopefully one day racism will mostly if not completely be erased and we all will truly be equal. And for you who still don't understand or can't see, educate yourself. We have the internet, there is no excuses.

And I will end with this.
You don't have to take it to the streets, you don't have to scream it in the phones or from your homes. You can hit a like. Say something if the topic arises, however:
Your silence is the approval to racism.