The Stream

‘The Mothers of Rinkeby’: What does it tell us about Swedish tolerance?

Documentary highlights experience of Somali-Swedish women working to improve life in Stockholm suburb declared no-go zone by far-right leaders.

The far-right Sweden Democrats party on Sunday recorded its best ever general election performance, taking 17.6 percent of the vote to finish third overall. The result is troubling for Sweden’s centre-left and centre-right parliamentary blocs, neither of which won a majority in the national legislature. The country now enters a period of political uncertainty.

The strong showing by the Sweden Democrats is also unsettling for immigrants living in low-income areas. Rinkeby, a suburb of the capital Stockholm, has long been called a crime-ridden ‘no-go zone’ by far-right politicians and some media outlets. But to many, including a group of determined women, it is simply home – and they are working hard to improve it from within, as shown in a new Al Jazeera documentary.

‘The Mothers of Rinkeby: Last Night In Sweden’ follows a group of Somali-Swedish mothers and grandmothers as they head out on regular night patrols. They were spurred to act after several young people were killed in gang violence. The film shows the challenges they face in building a better community for all – while boosting the prospects of young people who feel marginalised and bereft of opportunity.

As the mothers of Rinkeby don high-visibility vests and go out on patrol, the popular image of Sweden as a bastion of tolerance and social democracy appears to be receding. We’ll discuss the film with producer Fatma Naib and consider what Sunday’s election result means for the future of immigrants to Sweden from crisis-hit countries. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Fatma Naib @FatmaNaib

Hadil Mohamed
Visual Artist 

Alexandra Pascalidou @pascalidou

Rashid Musa
High School Teacher

Read more:

Sweden was long seen as a ‘moral superpower.’ That may be changing – The New York Times
For migrants in Sweden, election season puts the promise of tolerance to the test – The Globe and Mail

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