The other week, the newspaper Expressen leaked mobile phone videos exposing the true colours of a couple of MPs from the Swedish far-right party The Sweden Democrats (SD). Contrary to what you might have guessed, the videos were not the work of some genius paparazzo with an eye for controversy and a hungry family to feed, or a left-wing activist with a grudge – no, this bright pair went to the trouble of filming themselves shouting racist and sexist abuse and wielding steel pipes at people on a drunken summer night. Oh, and they decided it'd be a good idea to do this two months before the 2010 election.
Fortunately for them, the videos didn't surface immediately, and the SD – whose key policies revolve around halting immigration, Islam and crime (ironic, seeing as more than half of SD’s members had a criminal record in 1993) – landed 5.7 percent of the votes and 20 seats in Swedish parliament.
In the 2010 election, SD managed to land 5.7 percent of the votes and 20 seats in the Swedish parliament. Their success can largely be attributed to this spectacular campaign film, which features a granny racing a gang of burqa-clad ladies to the social benefits desk.
In the past two months, three public opinion polls have showed that the SD are now Sweden’s third biggest party. Which may be because they now trot around Swedish parliament looking like this:
...whereas a decade ago they were more likely to be found wearing Nazi uniforms and carrying swastika flags at street rallies than poncing around in traditional folkloric Swedish dress. The Swedish public bought this fascist-in-fairy's clothing act, and – much like similar toning down tactics have done for Marine Le Pen in France – the SD began to gain an increasing amount of mainstream approval.
The SD's popularity had reached unprecedented heights, but then Expressen got hold of the videos. They show how, in 2010, MP Erik Almqvist, SD’s economic policy spokesman, MP Kent Ekeroth, a member of the Committee on Justice, and their friend, Christian Westling, a deputy board member for SD in Stockholm, got into a heated confrontation with Soran Ismail, a Swedish comedian of Kurdish background, at a McDonald's in central Stockholm.
When the police arrived, the SD MPs made it out to look as if they were the ones under attack. They even re-edited their mobile phone footage to make it look that way, and released a video on SD’s YouTube channel, after Soran Ismail, the comedian they insulted, posted his own video to show people what really happened that night.
A few weeks ago, before Expressen started releasing the footage they’d gotten their hands on, the newspaper went to the parliament to confront Erik with the witness statements that allege he called the girl in the video a “whore” and started throwing various racist terms around. Erik told him this wasn't the case, because “That’s not the kind of person I am.”
Most of you don’t understand Swedish, so here's a recap of the juicy bits that start at 2:23 into the clip.
Erik gets kicked out of a McDonald's by a guard who saw him confront Soran and some other guys who called him a racist. As he gets out he aggressively points his finger at Soran and says, “Don’t say anything about your Sweden-hating friend [referring to the guard] because you will have problems in the future,” and adds, “Don’t fuck with the Swedes.” Soran replies, “But I’m only debating.” Erik replies, “You’re debating like a little cunt."
Then the following discussion takes place:
Soran: “That was very mature and intelligently formulated, a great point.” And he continues, “You have the right to say whatever you want because we are living in a democracy but I think you are destroying Sweden, my country. It’s still your right.”
Erik: “You’re behaving like a babbe [an insulting term for ”Immigrant” and also short for baboon] right now and it’s my country and you have no business being here.”
Soran: “It’s my country too.”
Erik: “No it’s not your country, it’s my country.”
Soran: “It’s my country.”
Erik: “No, it’s my country.”
Soran: “But it says Sweden on my passport.”
Erik: “Yeah but it’s my country.”
Soran: “I’m Swedish.”
Erik: “You don’t identify with Swedish culture, therefore you are not Swedish and then you’re outside it and you have no business being here.”
Soran: “I’m sorry but it’s not up to you, I’m Swedish.”
Erik: “Yes, it is up to me.”
Soran: “No it’s not.”
Erik: “We’ll see on the 19th of September [the date of the last election in 2010] what the Swedish people think.”
Soran: “It doesn’t matter what the Swedes think, I am what I am and I decide who I am.”
Erik: “It doesn’t matter what the Swedes think?”
Soran: “If I said I was gay, and you say I’m not, is that really up to you?”
Erik: “It’s up to the majority to decide… what business you have being here and what business I have being here. ” [raising his voice] “We will see what the Swedish people think.”
Then Soran takes up his mobile phone to get Erik’s infuriating quotes on film. Erik completely changes his tone of voice and starts talking like a politician, answering, “Other people can’t decide your sexuality.” To which Soran responds: “But you just said… If I say I’m Swedish and you say I’m not…is it up to you what I am?” Erik answers calmy, “It’s up to the Swedish society in its entirety.”
Soran: “Will the majority decide whether I’m gay or not?”
Erik: “Your sexuality is personal.”
Soran: “And what about my citizenship?”
Erik: “No, your citizenship is not personal, the authorities decide that.”
Soran: “But the authorities say I’m Swedish, you’re the one saying I’m not.”
Then Erik tells Soran he isn’t Swedish because he is arrogant, provocative and anti-Swedish in his values and opinions. According to SD, anyone who doesn’t agree with their politics are anti-Swedish.
Then the SD guys accuse a random drunk Swedish guy of having tried to steal their mobile phone. Erik walks up to him in an aggressive manner, demands that the drunk guy let go of a soda can he’s holding, smacks it out of his hand, and, as the guy bends down to pick it up, Erik goes in for a kick, while saying: “Why are you trying to hit people?”
Not sure, but I'm guessing this was meant as a far-right LOL, seeing as Erik himself was clearly the offender. The drunk guy challenges the SD guys to hit him so that he can, “Fuck them afterwards.” A girl goes between them and manages to get the drunk guy to the other side of the street. One of the SD guys exclaims, “What’s wrong with people in this country?” and another assures the onlookers that, “With our politics there will be no more people like that.”
Another girl comes up to the SD guys asking why they can’t deal with the situation “man to man” instead of going three against one. Again, they claim they were only preventing the guy from stealing their phone. She exclaims, “Are you shitting me? Don’t you realise what you were trying to do just there.” The SD guys counter with, “We have 100 percent moral right to break him down to the ground if we had wanted to.”
She continues arguing until Erik tells his friends to, “Not give a fuck about that little whore, let’s leave.”
On their way they bump into the drunk guy who they reprimand in passing to, “behave like a Swede.” The drunk guy, trying to understand what they mean, shows them that he’s just standing with his arms up (in a surrender position) and asks them, “What the hell have I done? What does this mean?!” (referring to his upheld arms). Kent answers, “It means you’re aggressive.” And they go on insulting him, “Babbe, babbe.” The girl tries to intervene once again. This time Kent pushes her onto a parked car.
The drunk guy gets upset that they hit a girl and challenges them to hit him again. Erik calls him a, “Blatte lover” [Swedish version of “nigger lover” used to insult friends of non-black immigrants] and tells his SD friends as they’re walking away: “Agree with me that it’s really fun to do these things just to fuck with them, not that I really care.”
[1:12 into the clip] They walk up the stairs connecting Kungsgatan in central Stockholm with Regeringsgatan. Kent starts filming again as they grab steel pipes from a scaffolding construction. Kent, probably realising how suspicious it looks, tells the camera, “We don’t want to do anything, we’re defending ourselves… We’re defending ourselves.”
Then they hear a police siren, let go of the pipes and run. One of them spots a police car and Kent says, “That’s not a problem, we have our evidence.” They bump into some girl they vaguely know and then decide to go down and file a report to the police.
When they come down, the police have already arrested the drunk guy. Erik walks up to them and lies about the drunk guy having tried to beat up his friend. Then they walk off, laughing. Christian says, “This is wonderful,” and Erik replies, “Being a fawner always works.” Christian tells the camera that the drunk guy had been chasing them with a wooden club, something they don’t have footage of and that the guy who was wrongly arrested denies.
Over two years later, the truth is out. The SD guys, who have been exposed as the idiots they really are, have been fired from their positions in the party and will most likely be tried in court for incitement to racial hatred. Whether this scandal will bang some sense into Swedish voters' heads, forcing them to question why Sweden – a country that proudly calls itself "the cradle of social democracy" – finds itself with a former neo-Nazi, far-right party in government, remains to be seen.
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