The Swedish Left Party has urged the Nordic nation's Statistics Bureau to start collecting data on citizens' skin color, ethnicity and religion. The decision to do so was taken at the party congress against the will of the party board, national broadcaster SVT reported.
The motion on "equality data" is designed to eliminate discrimination and bias by identifying the vulnerability of different groups. According to the Left MP Daniel Riazat, one of the masterminds behind the motion, there is no problem whatsoever collecting this sort of data based on the grounds of self-identification and anonymity.
"The most important thing is to have evidence when talking about structural discrimination," Riazat told SVT, brushing aside the risk of the statistics being misused.
"I'm proud to be an anti-racist speaker in a party that pushes for putting anti-racism in the foreground," Höj Larsen said, stressing the necessity of highlighting issues such as ethnicity in terms of discrimination.
Incidentally, the very same Left Party vehemently opposes the idea of re-introducing the practice of recording criminals' ethnicity, which was effectively abandoned in the mid-2000s as "unethical." Calls to resume "ethnic profiling" started rolling in amid the speculated prevalence of foreign-born citizens in certain crimes, such as sexual assault. According to Riazat, these are completely different debates, despite striking similarities.
"Linking crimes with ethnicity or religion is racism. This debate has been discarded a long time ago," Riazat explained.
However, the proposal, disparagingly dubbed "skin color registry," has run aground from the very beginning. Statistics Sweden's own press officer Nizar Chakkour voiced skepticism over the Left's "equality data" as unconstitutional.
"Should this be self-appreciated? I myself was born in Poland to a Polish mother and a Syrian dad and was raised [in the Swedish city of] Lund. I would then say I'm Scanian [Swedish province]," Chakkour told SVT. "Should they want skin color in the register as well? I don't think this is compatible with the law," he added.
Political scientist Marie Demker of the Gothenburg University argued the Left was on a "slippery slope," as such data can be used to confirm prejudice, which was contested by Left MP Momodou Jallow, another campaigner for "equality data," Dagens Nyheter reported.
Tusen tack till alla som stöttade motionen om jämlikhetsdata och till er som drivit frågan i och utanför @vansterpartiet! Såååå grym känsla att få igenom den på #vkongress!! pic.twitter.com/cqHg9jQcPD— Daniel Riazat ✊🏽 (@DanielRiazat) February 11, 2018
"Big thanks to all those who supported the motion on equality data and to you who pushed the issue inside and outside the Left Party!" Riazat tweeted.
Previously, the idea of collecting "equality data" was proposed in the city of Botkyrka, but slammed as "leftist race registry" by the Conservative Party.
Founded in 1917, the Left Party has its roots in the Communist Party of Sweden. It has never been part of the government and gathered 5.7 percent of the vote in the 2014 general election.