What is ”Swedishness”?

What does it mean being a Swede? Is it a matter of nationality or is something else involved?

Every now and then the matter of “Swdishness” pops up. When that happens, politicians and journalists love to blurt out one insanity after another.

This is what Mona Sahlin said to young Turks here in Sweden, in 2002 while holding the office as minister of integration:

“I have often been asked that question, but I can not think of what the Swedish culture is. I think that’s one of the little things that make so many Swedes envious of immigrant groups. You have a culture, an identity, a history, something that binds you. And what do we have? We have Midsummer Eve, and such “silly” things.”


Our Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt,  stated, in 2006, that:

“[What is] Genuinely Swedish is just barbarism. The rest of the development has come from outside.”


Sweden does have a culture, although a representative of the highest office, the PM, has declared that it is only “barbarism” (and one may wonder as to his capacity and competence to be able to, regarding his statement, be able to differentiate between the two). And, no, celebrating midsummer and such “silly” things isn’t all of Swedish culture either.

One wonders about the obsessive desire to belittle one’s own country. What are the motivations behind Mona Sahlin, former party leader of the Social Democratic Labour Party – the largest party in the Swedish parliament, that drives her to utter something so insane?

I have no answer to that question. What I do know, however, is that this urge for national self-deprecation is deeply seated in some people. It even goes so far as to, seriously, attempting to create a new national flag in time for our Day of the Swedish flag/national day June 6th.

Of course, the cross in our flag is one of the motivators since it is probably Christian in origin and Muslims may be offended by it. It is also yellow on blue and therefore not inclusive enough, to use new-speak, to encompass all our immigrants.

As of late, some immigrants and descendants of immigrants have started talking about Swedishness. They, and others, feel that we, the “original” Swedes so to speak, should have no definitive right to define Swedishness. It is they who should define what is Swedishness and what is not.

Rather than accepting the general spirit and culture of the place you have happened to come to to live, it is so much better to demand, and be given(?), the right to define it according to your own preferences.

It must be immeasurably comforting to be able to state with impunity, that “Ramadan is now a Swedish custom” because it is mentioned, together with the American 4th of July and the Norwegian “Syttende mai ”, in a calendar while there is no factual basis for the statement whatsoever. This came from Raid Amin from the Muslim student organization Alhambra in Malmö.

I guess Ramadan, as opposed to the general Swedish barbary, is now high culture in the “new” Swedishness.

The latest monstrosity comes from Ehsan Fadakar when he states that “Swedishness is a matter of class”.


He gives two examples; police telling, by context, presumably immigrant youths to “behave” and not be “cocky” (which is very, very hard for many youths of immigrant descent) during a major political event and a gent from the UK who thinks he may be Swedish in lieu of his education, work and high salary. Not to forget that he also looks Swedish.

Ehsan Fadakr also mentions that while he and a genuinely Swedish friend was in South Africa, both of them were considered to be… Swedes.


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