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Swedish Iraqis

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Iraqis are the second largest minority group living in Sweden, with 131,888 Iraq-born people living in Sweden and 47,913 Swedes with at least one Iraq-born parent. The size of this group has doubled in the period of 2002 to 2009; the influx of Iraqi refugees increased dramatically from 2006 to 2009 as a result of the Iraq War.



Iraq-born people are the second largest minority group living in Sweden, after the Sweden Finns (5.1%).

Migration history

Iraqi immigrants to Sweden have come in four distinct waves of migration. The first were around 8,000 Kurdish and Assyrian nationalists and Iraqi communists who were escaping the Baathist regime. This wave was between 1968–1978. The second wave of 10,000 people was between 1980 and 1988, mainly Kurds and Assyrians escaping Al-Anfal Campaign and Iraqi men escaping forced conscription in the Iran–Iraq War. The third wave was about 15,000 people, between 1991 and 1999, again mostly Kurdish and Assyrian people from Northern Iraq. Most of these came with families. The largest numbers, almost 30,000 people, of Iraqis in Sweden today have migrated as a consequence of the Iraq War of 2003 to 2010. Most of them have been Sunni Arabs and Assyrian Christians.

Christian Iraqis, fearing persecution in their homeland, make up a large part of that influx after Iraq occupation in 2003. Sweden accepts more than half of all asylum applications from Iraqis in Europe. In 2006, over 9,000 Iraqis fled their country and came to Sweden seeking shelter, a fourfold increase over 2005. In 2007, Sweden attempted to throttle the influx of Iraqi refugees by tightening the rules for asylum seekers, but in 2008 there were again record numbers of Iraqi immigrants, close to 12,000. In 2009, the number of immigrants fell again slightly, to 8,400.

Iraqi-born persons in Sweden by year:

Refugee status and naturalization

In 2006 Sweden granted protection status to more Iraqis than in all other EU states combined. In 2005 only 0.1 percent of Iraqis were recognised as refugees, but the total recognition rate including those granted complementary protection was a relatively high 24 per cent. In the year 2006 however, recognition rates leapt to a total of 91 per cent.

The Swedish Migration Board decided in early 2006 that all Iraqi asylum-seekers from Central and Southern Iraq whose claims had been rejected as part of the normal status determination process would nevertheless receive a permanent residence permit, allowing the majority of Iraqis in Sweden to begin the process of fully integrating into Swedish society with a secure legal status.

In the context of the generally low recognition rates for Iraqis in other EU states, Sweden's generosity led to a surge in the number of applications received from Iraqis. Figures increased from 2,330 in 2005 to 8,951 the following year, with a further 1,500 new arrivals per month in the first half of 2007. Most of these persons have joined the existing Iraqi community in Sweden in municipalities such as Malmö and Södertälje, with the scale of the influx to these areas forcing newcomers to live in very poor conditions. Speaking in June 2007, Södertälje's mayor Anders Lago described the situation as being close to breaking point, with the authorities barely able to provide basic services and many newcomers sharing apartments with up to fifteen people.

Notable people

  • Ahmad Ahmad, bodybuilder
  • Bovar Karim, footballer
  • Minas al-Yusifi, politician
  • Urban Hamid, filmmaker
  • Zeyn Al-Abidyn S-Latef, footballer
  • Mohamed Said (actor), actor
  • Salam Karam, journalist
  • Modhir Ahmed, visual artist
  • Araz Yassin, footballer
  • Denise Roxenhamn, Swedish bassist for band, The Laundry Shop (half Swedish and half Iraqi)
  • Abdul Munam S. Kadhim, senior lecturer in sociology and social psychology at Umeå University
  • Seif Kadhim, footballer
  • Abir Al-Sahlani, politician*
  • Rebin Sulaka, footballer
  • Hayv Kahraman, Artist and painter
  • References

    Swedish Iraqis Wikipedia

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