Inside the Stockholm suburbs where cars are torched, drugs sold openly and fire engines must be bulletproof
Nick Fagge in Rinkeby, Sweden — Daily Mail Feb 23, 2017
The Stockholm suburb that was hit by violent riots on Monday is a police no-go zone where cars are torched almost every day, gangs rule the streets and fire engines have to be fitted with bulletproof glass.
Residents of rundown Rinkeby, where nine out of ten residents are immigrants, have spoken out about how they live in fear, as Swedish politicians and police officers admitted that ‘Trump was right’.
‘The situation is here is terrible,’ one resident said. ‘I am scared most of the time when I leave my apartment. I have been assaulted twice and robbed once since I moved to Rinkeby. The criminal gangs can do what they want.
‘What happened on Monday night is just the tip of the iceberg. Gangs control this whole area. There are riots every evening and the police can do nothing to contain the situation.’
The US president said Sweden, usually considered among the most peaceful and stable on earth, was suffering from social problems linked to mass migration.
His comments were widely mocked. But on Monday night, police were forced to fire warning shots after rioters torched cars, hurled stones at police and looted shops in the Rinkeby district of the capital, injuring a policeman.
Beat officer Hanif Azizi, who was scrambled to the scene, told MailOnline: ‘When we sat in the car and saw the riots I tapped my colleague on the shoulder and said, “perhaps Trump was right after all”.’
Politician Mattias Karlsson from the populist Swedish Democrats, Sweden’s second most popular party, said that the chaos was the result of mass immigration, adding: ‘I am very grateful to President Trump for focusing attention on this issue.’
A forgotten suburb of Stockholm, Rinkeby is where brazen youths openly deal heroin and other drugs inside the entrance to the only train station. Stolen goods are on sale at the red brick over town square.
School attendance levels are of great concern in the sprawling immigrant ghetto, where a massive 89.3 per cent of residents were born outside Sweden. Unemployment rates are among the highest in Sweden, at 15.4 per cent.
The recent rioting in Rinkeby has been blamed on a hardcore group of criminals from immigrant backgrounds. These gangs have no links to radical Islam or any other religious groups, police sources have confirmed.
One shopkeeper said: ‘There is an ongoing war between the criminals on one side and the police and regular residents on the other.’
Ahmed, 31, a refugee from Yemen who was placed in Rinkeby by the Swedish migration board after he claimed asylum a year ago, said:
‘I fled from a country that was more like a war zone than a functioning society and ended up here.
‘I am scared every day here and wish I could live somewhere else.’
Ahmed added if his picture were published he would be attacked by the gangs that terrorise Rinkeby for speaking out.
He is not alone. Shopkeepers told MailOnline how they regularly fall victim to the gangs of youths who openly sell heroin and other drugs inside Rinkeby’s train station.
‘The youths come into my shop and threaten me and my staff almost every day,’ said Nouri, 44, who runs a shoe shop next to entrance to the train station where the riot erupted on Monday night.
A former officer in the Afghan army, officer Nouri fled from the Taliban in 1998 and was offered asylum in Sweden.
‘The gangs are always standing outside my shop,’ he added. ‘They come in here and grab pairs of expensive shoes and just walk out. There is nothing I can do.
‘If I report them to the police they will torch the store. They are usually about 40 to 50 thugs hanging out here on the square at night.
‘They sell drugs and stolen goods and are in control of the entire area. They can do what they like and there is nothing we can do about it.
‘Everyone knows who they are but no one has the courage to report them to the police.’
Another shopkeeper, an Iraqi man too frightened to give his name, told how his windows were smashed in the Monday night riots.
‘My windows are smashed quite often,’ he said. ‘This is a lawless part of Stockholm.
‘Gang members shoot at each other over drugs, residents are assaulted for looking the wrong way when someone is selling drugs, everything happens here.
‘The situation in Rinkeby is awful. The police have lost control.’
The area is so dangerous that emergency calls for ambulances and fire engines go unanswered until police can provide an escort, officials have confirmed.
Victims of crime fail to report crime or volunteer themselves as witnesses due to fear of reprisals.
Beat officer Hanif Azizi told MailOnline: ‘We don’t call this area [Rinkeby] a no-go zone ourselves [because] it stigmatizes the area and those who live here. We call it a particularly vulnerable area.
‘A big part of our job is to assist fire trucks and ambulances entering the areas. We provide safety for them on a daily basis.
‘We could not let the rescue services in to the area for a long time on Monday night. Several cars were on fire but we could not let them in until it was safe.
‘Even the ambulances had to wait even though people were hurt. This happens often in this area.
He added: ‘These areas do not only need police officers. We need teachers, adult role models for the kids, people who can take responsibility and stand up against crime. The residents are afraid to act and witness against crime.
‘The young criminals have no adult role models. No one who tells them that what they are doing is wrong.
‘When we sat in the car and saw the riots I tapped my colleague on the shoulder and said, “perhaps Trump was right after all”.’
Built between 1969 and 1971 as part of socialist Sweden’s five-year plan to build one million homes, Rinkeby is a sprawling mass of high-rise apartments that are home to 60,000 people.
Hump-back footbridges over the maze of roads provide perfect vantage points for disaffected youths to throw stones and bottles at blue-light flashing police cars – and fire engines and ambulances.
Money transfer offices dominate the few shopping centres where residents – 89.3 per cent who were born outside Sweden – can transfer money to family abroad.
Arabic, Somali and Persian are spoken in cafes, where traditional Swedish food is rare. Clothing stores stock headscarves, Islamic cloaks and face veils.
The far right Swedish Democrats claim that Monday’s carnage at Rinkeby was a direct result of mass immigration to Sweden.
The country has run a liberal immigration policy for over 20 years, accepting tens of thousands of refugees every year including huge numbers of Kurds, Iraqis and Somalis.
The system reached breaking point in 2015, following the arrival of over 160,000 refugees to Sweden during Europe’s refugee crisis.
Mattias Karlsson from the Swedish Democrats said: ‘I am very grateful to President Trump for focusing attention on this issue.
‘We have huge problems with border security, immigration and law and order. This is not only in Rinkeby.
‘Now we have problems in our towns and cities that we did not dream could be possible ten years ago.
‘Trump was right to highlight the problems we have here in Sweden.’
The Swedish government has rejected Donald Trump’s criticism of its immigration policy, however.
Migration spokesman Fredrik Lundh Sammeli told MailOnline: ‘The problems that we are facing in Rinkeby are due to basic reasons like alienation, unemployment and problems with housing.
‘We are not doing the debate any favours if one draws a straight line between immigration and crime. There are other reasons why there is crime in these areas. It is mainly due to unemployment.’
He added: ‘It surprises me that the president of America raises Sweden as an example. I think Sweden can be an example in many cases. But not when it comes to crime related to immigration.
‘Sweden did a tremendous effort during the migration crisis in 2015. We do have issues to deal with because of this. But crime in our suburbs has nothing to do with the influx of immigrants.
‘Sweden is a country that is working. The social differences are far greater in the US than here.
‘I think the American president misses the target. We do have challenges within these areas, but they are not related to immigration.’