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Could Malmo become Sweden’s Chicago | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police keep watch in Sweden after a riot in February. Reuters

Malmo – When you wander in the Sweden Möllevången district, you may not quickly notice that the southern city is known as one of the international hot spots of organized crimes.

Young women hold their babies’ carriages, and elderlies sit in the sun, while the square of Möllevången seems agitated. However, in February, this square witnessed an awful crime.

The image of Malmo has deteriorated after a series of shooting accidents that took place recently and was brought into light by conservative media outlets like the US Fox News.

Even US President Donald Trump highlighted these accidents in one of his speeches earlier this year and said: “Look at what’s happening in Sweden.”

Criminologist Manne Gerell said that Malmo had a drastic increase in shootings and murders. Since the beginning of 2016, 17 people have been killed during riots in Malmo, a city with only about 330,000 inhabitants. The Russian station RT said Malmo has become “Sweden’s Chicago” after the acts of violence it had witnessed.

Many of the crimes that occurred in Malmo were often linked to criminal networks. In most of these cases, police was found helpless and failed in finding even one suspect. A saleswoman at the Mollan store in Möllevången said she is not afraid.

One of the square’s corners features roses and a large photo of a 23-year-old young man who was shot in front of a Thai restaurant. According to the police, he had been involved in drug trafficking. Marvin, who has been selling vegetables for two decades in the Mollan market, says: “The city is no longer the same… drugs triggered clashes.”

Mollan lodges many refugees including this heavy-build salesperson, who was a child when he came to Sweden from Lebanon 40 years ago. Despite being immigrant, Marvin says: “”We allowed too many people to come and live in this country. We need more strict rules.” Such sentences leave good echoes among the Swedish right-winged populists.

“These crimes do not occur because of ethnic background, but because of social class, and no one talks about it,” said Malmo’s mayor for environment and security, Andreas Schönström. The social democrat politician said 150 out of 200 members from the organized crimes’ networks in the city come from foreign backgrounds. “But that’s not the reason, the major factor is that people in these areas live in bad conditions,” he said.

With ‘these areas”, the politician means neighborhoods like Sofielund near Möllan and Rosengård, where a 23-year-old hug had been shot at the end of March. The victim, according to the police, was a witness to a murder of a 16-year-old boy in the same district in January.

“We offered him protection, but he did not want to cooperate with us,” said Lars Förstell, a police officer.

“Perhaps because he was dealing with drugs.” This was one of the few acts where the police arrested a suspect. However, the case was not terminated.

Deputy Mayor Schönström said the city witnesses a struggle over power among a bunch of young men.

“A few years ago, the police succeeded in arresting the leaders of those networks. They had a lot of weapons,” he added.

Gerell said most of the weapons enter Sweden through Malmo. Many newcomers also arrive in the country through this city.

Schönström noted that people move quickly from the city, however, poverty, social problems and crime remain in the area.

The local football club gathers homeless boys from the street in the evening, and property owners are considered responsible for any incidents that may occur in their neglected buildings. A team on bicycles is responsible of cleaning the neighborhood daily.