How strict must Sweden be with arsonists?

More than 100 cars have been set on fire in Swedish cities and suburbs this summer. The situation is so extreme that local residents have had to extinguish several fires the fire brigade was unable to reach in time, according to police reports. The press discusses what role the social background of the arsonists plays.

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Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Tackle the problem at its root

Scores of cars have been set on fire in the southern Swedish cities of Malmö and Landskrona, where unemployment is particularly high. This is where action should be taken first, Sydsvenskan urges:

“Most people in the suburbs obey the law and have lost their social stability. And on the individual financial level things are also going downhill - even a cheap used car can be unaffordable nowadays. The culprits must be arrested and harshly punished. But the root causes must also be addressed. That will require long-term, patient work on many levels.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Zero tolerance for car arsonists

Dagens Nyheter, on the other hand, rejects the high unemployment argument:

“These theories often surface in this kind of context but are seldom put to the test. How is it supposed to work? Perhaps society should bow down politely and say: Excuse me, Mr Car Torcher, we have already offered you free education and plenty of support. What else can we do to stop you punishing us by turning the neighbour's Fiat Punto into a bonfire? More dialogue, perhaps? Residents of [the Malmö district] Rosengård told the media that the police provoked the youths and the latter retaliated with fire. But it is criminals, gangster bosses and drug dealers who are most bothered by the presence of the police. Their sensitivities are not the top priority when it comes to solving the problems in the affected areas of Sweden.”