For a British boy to be killed by a grenade attack anywhere is appalling, but for it to happen in a suburb of Gothenburg should shatter a few illusions about Sweden.
Last week’s murder of eight-year-old Yuusuf Warsame fits a pattern that Swedes have come slowly to recognise over the years. He was from Birmingham, visiting relatives, and was caught up in what Swedish police believe is a gang war within the Somali community. Last year, a four-year-old girl was killed by a car bomb outside Gothenburg, another apparent victim of gang violence.
For years, Sweden has regarded itself as a ‘humanitarian superpower’ — making its mark on the world not by fighting wars but by offering shelter to war’s victims. Refugees have arrived here in extraordinary numbers. Over the past 15 years, some 650,000 asylum-seekers made their way to Sweden. Of the 163,000 who arrived last year, 32,000 were granted asylum. Sweden accepts more refugees in proportion to size of population than any other nation in the developed world — when it comes to offering shelter, no one does it better. But when it comes to integrating those we take in (or finding the extra housing, schools and healthcare needed for them), we don’t do so well.
It may be news to the rest of the world, but gang warfare has been a feature of our country for years now. Stockholm has been witness to Dickensian scenes of young pickpockets and thieves playing games of cat-and-mouse with the police, who feel powerless. Until fairly recently, Sweden was admired for its progressive social policies. Today, one in seven voters supports the Sweden Democrats, a populist party until recently reviled in polite Swedish society.