Strömsnäsbruk appears to be a scenic location, situated next to the rolling river Lagan, in Småland municipality Markaryd. 2,400 inhabitants live in this seemingly idyllic place, once known for the paper mills that were in use decades ago.
By – Brünnhilde
And this is where the now- renowned Syrian multi-part family moved from Nacka – three homes to three wives and 14 children – they were originally 16, but two of the daughters have since received sheltered accommodation. It was here the family demanded to be, where their relatives already lived.
And the family is just one in the endless line of migrants who have moved in. In a middle school classroom of 16 children, there are just 3 Swedes. In the municipality, 30.6 percent are born abroad, in Strömsnäsbruk specifically, the percentage is likely to be more. Some claim that it is up 40 percent.
Thomas drives us around the village. Almost the only people we see are foreign-born. Only one person is Swedish. In the schoolyard, boys play soccer mingled with shouts and cries in Arabic.
“Arabs buy villas here. It’s strange that they have bought so many. It is as if there is a plan to expand,” Thomas tells us.
“You may also wonder if there is any secret messaging that is directly available to new arrivals, because many of the properties are never even advertised on Hemnet,” continues Thomas. “First, there is one who moves in and then suddenly it is flooded with new foreign families.”
We meet more villagers, Laila and Rolf, friends of Thomas. Everyone is in the 50’s and their real names are hidden, due to their request to remain anonymous. ‘Rolf’ works in a profession where he is called to assist in nightly disruptions, in places throughout the county.
“It is the Arabs who act excessively rude and throw parties without minding their neighbors. We tell them and they promise to be quiet. A while later, they continue as if nothing happened,” he explains to us.
‘Laila’, like many of her friends, experiences a high level of insecurity as a woman in society.
“In the past, you used to be able to walk into town. Now you must drive or be driven if you have business in town,” she says.
Thomas takes us on a ride with the car and tells with pride and love about the town’s society, whose modern history blends with his own.
Like many others, he grew up as a worker in a working family. The parents worked on the paper mill. In the 50’s and 60’s, Yugoslavians, Greeks, Finns and Danes immigrated to the town.
“All integrated into our society, without any conflict or disrespect,” he remembers.
He proudly shows how the homes of society were built on floors above the blue waters of Lagan, so that everyone had access to the view.
“It was idyllic. Here was everything. Water skiing club, bathing place, all woods to wander in and fishing waters,” he recalls nostalgically.
He shows us the roads that can take tourists all the way to Markaryd. Then we go on the “most beautiful road in the world”, the Riksetan, which lanes according to Lagan’s liquid silver.
“Here we fished and played football. Here the utility cartridges lived, where workers used to reside.”
Later, more villas and more apartments were built.
But Thomas’s love has clouded.
“After 40 years, I no longer feel at home. The Arabs have taken over everything. They dominate the street scene,” he says.
Two Arabic shops have been opened.
“There are goods arriving at all times of the day with various vans,” according to Thomas. “There seems to be no control from the authorities or the union.”.
“While they are very careful and strict with Swedish companies, nobody dares to check the Arabic. businesses The Swedish people who try to establish themselves are therefore competing in an unfair situation,” he continues.
A big sign for Western Union, which transfers money abroad, has been put up in the windows of both stores.
“We used to have regular banks here that have fallen down. Nevertheless, it can pay off with no less than two Western Union offices where they send money abroad. Something is not right. It’s weird.” he explains.
Thomas uses the same words about the gym and about the bathing place. And about the beautiful park at the beach where the locals used to gather in the past.
“Now the people here are born abroad in large groups, they speak loudly in Arabic, play loud Arabic music and glare at you with a dark, unwelcoming gaze if you come too close,” he says to us. “You get the feeling that you are unwelcome.”
No Swedish goes there anymore, according to Thomas.
“People are indoors watching tv from five to six,” he says.
Those who want to fish need to purchase a fishing license for SEK 200.
“But if I think about it further, there are seven or eight individuals that nobody dares ask if they have bought,” he says.
Thomas paints a picture of lawless land.
A Wild West. He swings past another apartment building.
“Here they have bought up, and here,” he says, pointing to premises and villas.
He shows windows being blocked by blinds or fabrics. Clear signs that there is no Swedish there.
“You will not see even a glimpse of any woman in there, but just the veils on their heads.”
We roll past the homes where the large family lives. Blocked, blacked out windows even there. He shows us the room on the second floor where many immigrant men usually meet and sit and smoke.
“It was there that they showed hardcore porn completely open on a big screen, in the middle of the afternoon once. 30-40 men sat in there, one could see it from the street,” he recounts.
Thomas also tells about the immigrant man who came up with 600,000 kronor in cash to buy a business premises.
“They do what they want and no one dares to say to them anything.”
Thomas shows a part of the premises that has been burnt, and reveals to us that there have been a number of mysterious fires.
In February, there was a fatal fire in the Syrian prayer room when a fire bomb was thrown in. The suspected offender was also a casualty, according to the prosecution. According to the municipality’s integration coordinator, there are three Syrian compounds in Strömsnäsbruk. Nobody we talk to knows anything about the associations nor that the suspect was also an immigrant..
Strömsnäbrug has also had problems with Romanian families who commited crimes and were violent. But they have moved on now.
Thomas becomes black in his eyes as he talks about the school.
“20-25 teachers have stopped coming to teach, they say. They get hurt, involved unwillingly in fights and threatened with knives,” he explains.
Based on Thomas and his friends’ story, it can be said that there are watertight shots between the villagers and the largely immigrant population. The integration shines with its absence.
Thomas and several friends have decided to get involved politically, for SD.