Malmö, Sweden

BACKGROUND

Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden and the sixth largest in Scandinavia, with a population of over 300,000 inhabitants. As with other cities with high immigration levels, fostering an environment of inclusion and cohesion is one of Malmö's biggest challenges, in particular with neighbourhoods tending to be increasingly segregated along socioeconomic lines. With this in mind, the city has launched several projects and initiatives (such as Communities That Care) to both promote cohesion for its inhabitants and counter violent extremism, as well as participating in prevention programmes on a national level.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Sweden has had a longstanding presence of far-right violent extremist groups: the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), an openly racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler violent group, was founded in Sweden in 1997. However, extremism in general has been on the rise in recent years though. Estimates show around 300 people have joined terror groups in Syria and Iraq since 2012, 150 of which are believed to have returned. Sweden was also victim of domestic terrorism with a truck attack in 2017 that killed five people and injured 15 others. As in other European countries, these events have sparked anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments, increasing social polarisation but also support for far-right movements. While Sweden was always perceived as one of the most tolerant liberal democracies in Europe, the country made the headlines in September 2018 when the far-right political party Sweden Democrats, originally founded by neo-fascist extremists, gained 17.7% of the votes in the national elections, more than triple its 2010 score when it first entered parliament. At the same time, the NRM’s pro-violent membership basis has grown by one third in 2016.

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LOCAL OVERVIEW

The Malmö municipality focuses on preventing radicalisation among young people, but also works with those who have crossed into violent extremism and are in danger of harming themselves or others. The preventative measures are offered to youths up to 18 years of age, or in some cases 21 years, and include a support phone number. Malmö is also the only Swedish member of LIAISE (Local Institutions Against Violent Extremism). LIAISE is an EU project featuring 12 European municipalities, working in collaboration to support local and regional authorities and share experiences on preventing radicalisation.

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[1]https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/networks/radicalisation_awareness_network/ran-papers/docs/policy_paper_developing_local_prevent_framework_guiding_112016_en.pdf