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Swedish Police, Accused of Cover-Up, Look Into Reports of Sexual Assault at Festival

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by RocketsLegend, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. RocketsLegend

    RocketsLegend Member

    Nov 19, 2015
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    LONDON — The police in Sweden, responding to accusations of a cover-up, said on Monday that they were investigating why the public had not been informed about sexual assault by men reported to be migrants at a festival in Stockholm last summer.

    In echoes of the scandal in Cologne, Germany, where the police are investigating scores of assaults, often involving asylum seekers, on New Year’s Eve, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported over the weekend that a gang of migrant youths had groped young girls at a festival in August.

    The attacks in Cologne have intensified the scrutiny of the assaults in Sweden, and even as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said there was no excuse for revenge attacks against immigrants, a group of Pakistanis and a Syrian were targeted in Cologne on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

    The Swedish newspaper said that the police had not mentioned the attacks until it published details about them, and it accused the authorities of failing to warn the public before the festival that similar attacks had occurred in 2014, prompting speculation that the authorities were trying to avoid an anti-immigrant backlash.

    The newspaper reported that it had seen a police memo from last summer that urged vigilance because there had been a problem at the festival the previous year “with young men who rub themselves against young girls.” It reported that the attackers were mostly migrants, including from Afghanistan.

    According to the Swedish edition of The Local, a news website, teenagers told Dagens Nyheter that they had been groped last summer at the festival, which is catered to 12- to-17-year-olds and whose 2015 program included performances by dance companies and circus artists.

    “As soon as you came out in the crowd, they began to grope,” one 15-year-old girl told Dagens Nyheter.

    The police on Monday said that they should have shared more information. “We should certainly have written and told people about this, no doubt,” Varg Gyllander, a Stockholm police spokesman told Dagens Nyheter, according to The Local. “Why it did not happen, I do not know.”

    He denied there had been a cover-up, according to Swedish news reports, and he said that a police investigation was underway.

    David Brax, a researcher of hate crimes at the University of Goteborg, said by phone that the accusations would help agitate an already intensifying backlash toward immigrants as countries across Europe were grappling with fears that terrorists and criminals were seeking to enter the Continent by masquerading as refugees.

    He noted that the police might have hesitated to publicize the assaults for fear of stoking revenge attacks against immigrants.

    Until recently, Sweden and Germany, both wealthy countries with relatively generous welfare programs, have been among the most welcoming countries toward immigrants.

    Last week, Sweden introduced new identity checks for travelers arriving from Denmark, prompting its neighbor to impose new controls on people crossing the border with Germany. The moves by the two countries were the latest blow to borderless travel across much of the Europe, a cornerstone of European integration.

    Mr. Brax said the emerging scandal in Sweden would embolden the far-right anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, which won almost 13 percent of the vote in a 2014 general election.

    “It will probably be a boon for the populist far right who are now celebrating that there is now proof that media and police are covering up crimes perpetrated by immigrants,” he said. “They are having a field day.”

    Anxieties over immigration in Sweden intensified over the summer when a woman and her son were stabbed to death at an Ikea in Vasteras, and an asylum seeker from Eritrea whose request had been denied was charged with the crime. Refugee centers in several sites in Sweden have also been set on fire in recent months.

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