There is an on-going debate, in this paper as well as in others. It has been said that Malmo is a gangster city, and even comparisons with Chicago have been made. Recent surveys have shown that the Malmo residents feel less safe than before. But how serious is it, really?
We decided to visit the streets of Malmo to check. This week we start with three strategically chosen places, namely Limhamn, Värnhem and Rosengård. We wanted to see whether there are any clear differences and similarities in how the Malmo residents look at their hometown, and whether they feel safe.
We have interviewed four people living in Limhamn and four living in Rosengård. At Värnhem we met two residents from the area and two living in other areas. The reader might wonder think that areas like Lindängen and Nydala, where a lot of the shootings take place, are missing in the interview base. We promise to come back to that later on. But it is evident that this is a delicate question. Most of the interviewed hesitated to give their names, some gave a pseudonym while others only gave their first name or no name at all. And only half of the interviewed were willing to be photographed. So however we look at it, it doesn’t seem that it is all that safe.
“Malmo is the Portal to the Rest of the World”
There are a couple of things that stand out, where more or less all the interviewed, notwithstanding where they live and come from and how they look upon the safety issue. The most obvious is the answer to the question if they would recommend a friend to move to Malmo. Eleven out of twelve would not hesitate to do so and most of them answer, almost with surprise in their voices: “Yes, of course!” while others are more verbose.
Felicia Jäderqvist, Limhamn, says: “There are so many areas that are really nice and it is very easy to move around. The buses go everywhere. So, yes.”
Omar Sanchez, Värnhem, answers: “Yes of course. Any day. One hundred per cent I would recommend anyone to at least visit Malmo. Malmo is the portal to the rest of the world.”
Lena Alhadj, Rosengård, finally, says: “Yes, I certainly would. Because I like people and I like when there are a lot of people. You become more active and it is more fun. You just have to be strong and brave. So I would have recommended it. I love Malmo. I feel safe in Malmo, but of course I know what streets to be in. It is simply up to you.”
“We Need to Make the Immigrants and the Swedes Mix”
Another thing most of the interviewed people agree on is integration. Notwithstanding whether you think multiculturalism is a good or a bad thing, notwithstanding whether you want to stop immigration or not, most of them agree that Malmo (and Sweden) has failed with integration.
Anita Christensson, Bunkeflostrand, consider the integration issue the root to the commotion: “It’s the youth, it’s the children who come here, who start school and then cannot finish upper secondary school or anything. Wel, this is the result. They get into criminal gangs way too early. I just heard that nine to ten year-olds deal drugs. It’s horrible”
Jonas Johansson, Limhamn, puts it this way: “I think a society should be multicultural, but it is important that the integration works. Many times Malmo has not managed to integrate the way they wanted and then it went wrong. That’s it, I think, but I think it should be multicultural, because you get a lot of influences from many cultures. But if we cannot take care of our refugees who come here, then I don’t really think we should let them in, because then we don’t help them, we hinder them.”
A lady who has lived and worked in Rosengård for 22 years, but who wants to remain anonymous, says this about integration: “I think it is good that Malmo is a multicultural city. There is just one thing: We need to make the immigrants and the Swedes mix in some way. Then the immigrants learn better Swedish. Those who don’t go to school, they are ashamed. Maybe they didn’t have any grades in their home country and the cannot speak one single Swedish word and feel disabled. Language is very important. But unfortunately all immigrants and all the Swedes do not mix. That is the problem. That is why they cannot learn Swedish very good. But thank goodness Sweden is a good country where everybody cares.”
This far we can, thus, note that the Malmo residents, or at least the interviewed Malmo residents, agree that Malmo, after all, is a wonderful town they would easily recommend friends to move to, but that there are problems and that the biggest problem is about integration. The opposite of integration is, as you know, segregation, and the residential segregation clearly shows among the interviewed persons. All prejudices were (sadly) confirmed. All the ones living in Limhamn had Swedish names, which none of the Rosengård residents had. At Värnhem it was somewhat more mixed. The question is whether integration is at all possible with such a clear segregation. Maybe that is where we have to start. And then it is highly questionable whether it is wise to continue to build expensive housings in Limhamn and cheaper ones in Rosengård.
“The Ones Involved Are known To Each Other”
A question where the Malmo residents do not agree in the same way, and where there are clear differences, both concerning where they live and their age, is whether Malmo is a safe or unsafe place. Most of them, however, have that in common that they experience their own neighbourhood as safe or relatively safe. Out of the twelve questioned nine people say they feel safe in their own borough. Two (both older ladies) think it feels unsafe even close to home and one (man in Limhamn) thinks it sometimes feels safe and sometimes not. Noticeable is also that all the Rosengård residents think Rosengård is a safe place.
Siw Larsson, Katrinelund, is one of the two who feels unsafe in her own neighbourhood: “Yes that’s how it is. Malmo has become an unsafe town. In the outskirts, among detached houses and suchlike, it’s safe, but otherwise I think it is a bit disruptive everywhere.”
Bertil Svensson, 83 years old from Limhamn, see a lot of problems, but not in the home area: “yes, when you read in the papers it is like that, but I rarely go out at nights. It is in certain areas, I think. I cannot be a hundred per cent sure, as I haven’t experienced anything. But in comparison with the old days, then there wasn’t this kind of criminality, with shootings and explosions, so I think you have to say that it happens much more often now than in the 60s and 70s. I think so, it happens too much. But here at Limhamn you can feel quite safe during the days. I cannot say anything about evenings and nights, because then I’m not out.”
Hector Lillo, Rosengård laughs when hearing the question: “Is Malmo a bad town? No, Malmo is a good town. Sure, there are some, not in town but certain bad areas outside of the centre. Rosengård is the bets and safest. I have lived for 34 years in Rosengård and you feel safe here.”
Magdalena, Värnhem, thinks in the same way: “To certain groups it is probably unsafe and to others it’s a bit less unsafe. In Värnhem it’s okay, I guess.”
Ulf Törnqvist, Limhamn, claims that it mostly is about internal confrontations that do not affect people in general. He answers with stress when I ask whether Malmo is an unsafe city: “No! That is not accurate. Some areas maybe, but the rumour and if you look at what it is, it is most often so that the ones involved are known to each other.”
Lena Alhadj, Rosengård, agrees: I cannot see a town that I love as unsafe. So I think it is safe, but there are certain people that are bad. But there is no one who gets hurt if you don’t deal with bad stuff. So I think Malmo is safe for good people.”
“We Don’t Seize the Youngsters at the Right Time”
So maybe, after all, it is not at all so unsafe in Malmo. People are comfortable and feel safe at least in their own neighbourhood. It is rather media and rumours that make people feel unsecure. If it is not like that, our little survey should imply that Rosengård is the safest area and Limhamn the most unsafe. And that could hardly be it. Or could it?
But nevertheless it cannot be denied that there are problems in Malmo, and none of the interviewed people do so. That the badly working integration is one cause to this any of them agree on, but then it varies a lot. Any clear differences between boroughs or gender can be seen. However, some differences when it comes to age is visible. The two persons who blame everything on the immigrants are also the oldest two interviewed. The three persons who think society cares to little about youngsters and that more should be done in school are all among the youngest I interviewed, while the ones most distinctly emphasising integration are somewhere in the middle age-wise.
Other possible reasons to Malmo’s criminality were only mentioned by one person. Those were: Too weak police force, the government, the media angle, lack of housing, bad social- and psychiatric care and flawed understanding of the refugees’ situation. Here are some examples:
Mohamed Sharif Shabelou, Rosengård, said ”It’s some few youngsters. They are bored, they have too little activities.”
The anonymous woman from Rosengård was a bit more verbose: “It is partly media. The way they write about Rosengård. When you read it you go crazy! Ninety per cent of the residents come from other countries. They didn’t leave their countries voluntarily. Either it was war or other problems. You have to understand that. The parents also have problems. They miss their relatives. They also should have built more apartments earlier. They knew how many had come here and the children grow up and need their own place. Now when you want an apartment you have to queue for 2-3 years. The you become aggressive. For instance I know a family with eight children who lives in a one-bedroom apartment. It affects children and their behaviour. It is important.”
Magdalena, Värnhem, points out that insecurity creates insecurity: That people don’t feel taken care of, perhaps. That they don’t feel a basic security and then they might feel left out. This, which is supposed to be a safe society, does not give them any chance. That explains some of the criminality. It doesn’t explain rapes and the like, but. That is maybe due to anxiety, maybe a bad psychiatric care.”
Omar Sanchez, Värnhem, mainly think it is a question about how we take care of young people: “We don’t seize the youngsters at the right time, I think. Youth centres are not given priority, yards and schoolyards are not give priority. And unfortunately that means young people go to other things. If that is because they are bored, that they come from a warzone and don’t know anything else or anything better or something else, is hard to say.”
Felicia Jäderqvist, Limhamn, discuss about the same thing: “It is probably because we don’t have a good structure at all. You see it in schools too. Teachers can be afraid if certain pupils. These pupils maybe bring anger from their homes.”
It is evident that this is a subject that engages. From most of the ones interviewed we got so long and full answers that we could have filled half the paper. We will continue to interview Malmo residents in different areas to get an even better overview. Maybe we will come to your area next time. Or you could e-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. The questions we asked are:
- Is Malmo an insecure place? Do you think people living in other areas experience it differently?
- Malmo is a multicultural city. Is that good or bad, and why?
- After all there are problems in Malmo. What do you think that is due to and what do you think should be done to change it?
- Would you recommend a friend to move to Malmo?