Friday, July 19, 2013

The Ugly Side of Sweden

One of the most beautiful, egalitarian countries in the world was also the site of disturbing protests in May. Janine di Giovanni visits Stockholm and attempts to understand why.  

Sweden, in the summer at least, must be one of the most glorious places in the world. The midnight sun makes the crime low and the people cheerful from midsummer until the first days of autumn. A country of 9.5 million souls, it has remained peaceful since the early-19th century and was neutral during World War II. In 2013, The Economist declared the Nordic countries the best governed in the world, and put Sweden in the first place.

Riots in Sweden  

A man sits injured on a street bench after a stone hit his head on May 22, 2013, during a demonstration against police violence and vandalism in the Stockholm suburb of Husby. Rioting spread across Stockholm's immigrant districts in a third night of unrest, raising fears that decades of integration efforts have gone dangerously awry.

As far as city living goes, Stockholm is so damned politically correct, and so damned easy. It has a low-density population. Escape from the city is easy. More than 30,000 islands are in the Swedish archipelago, making the hop from urban life to bucolic isolation available to anyone who can jump on a boat leaving the city every few minutes.

Beautiful, chic young people dine out in cool neighborhoods like SoFo at a fraction of what you would pay in Paris, London, or New York. The city is awash with blonde babies, because the system has made it painless to go on maternity leave (there is an established paternity leave as well), then glide back into the workforce.
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