The Swedish government has decided that all asylum seekers who come to the country in the future will undergo a mandatory social introduction course shortly after their arrival.
The Swedish Migration Board has been tasked with preparing an introductory course that will inform the new arrivals about the asylum process, Swedish legislation, and the country's democratic norms and values. This includes information on the rules that apply to so-called "honour-related" violence and oppression as well as protection from discrimination and abuse.
Among other things, the new arrivals will be informed that polygamy, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and domestic violence are forbidden, as is racism (inluding anti-Semitism, Afrophobia, and Islamophobia) and other forms of hostility.
"All asylum seekers staying in this country must know what rights and obligations apply and what life here looks like. The introduction to society must be part of the asylum process and it must function as a natural start to a chain of assimilation-promoting initiatives given to asylum seekers in Sweden", Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson said in a press release.
According to the government, the introduction must, as a starting point, be conducted orally on site at the Swedish Migration Board's premises, but can be combined with, among other things, digital self-study. The starting point is that women and men should have "equal opportunities" to be able to participate.
The course is the result of an agreement between the ruling Social Democrats and the Greens, and their sidekicks the Centre Party and the Liberals. The social introduction procedures will be presented by April of this year and will be formally evaluated at some point in 2023.
Sweden, a relatively homogeneous nation until half a century ago, has in the past few decades embraced mass immigration, to the point where over a quarter of the population have a foreign background (up from 15 percent in 2000). Using a counting method now considered outdated, where having at least one foreign-born parent constitutes a foreign background, their proportion rises 33 percent, or about a third. Among young children, the proportion of non-Swedes is even higher.
The most popular countries of origin for immigrants in Sweden include Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia.
The Swedish authorities, political establishment, and press have largely been in denial about the difficulties associated with large-scale immigration and culture clashes, sparking increasingly bitter criticism from opposition parties, such as the liberal-conservative Moderates and the national-conservative Sweden Democrats. In a turning point last year, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven admitted that failed integration is fraught with problems and may create tensions in society and pledged to change the country's policy.