The right-wing Sweden Democrats in the town of Skurup have moved to ban Arabic and other foreign languages in the local schools.
The Sweden Democrats' prohibition proposal is to be introduced from pre-school through high school. Exceptions should only be made for regular language lessons and Sweden's official so-called minority languages, which are Finnish, Yiddish, Romani as well as Sami and Meänkieli, the two Finnish-Ugric languages spoken in the north of the country.
If they have their way, Swedish will become the only language spoken during lessons and breaks. At present, numerous foreign languages are spoken at the county's schools, which, according to the Sweden Democrats breeds exclusion and misunderstanding.
“To dare to demand that only Swedish is spoken in our schools is to take responsibility for the school, something that unfortunately has been lacking for a long time. Therefore, we are convinced that it Swedish should normally be used as language of conversation in corridors and classrooms, for faster integration into Swedish society,” the party said, as quoted by the local newspaper Lokaltidningen.
According to the Sweden Democrats, this measure will help the newcomers adapt to Swedish society.
“Many new arrivals have come to our municipality and many of them cannot speak Swedish at all. The key to entering Swedish society is the language. To get a decent job, you should read newspapers, take part in media, then you have to speak Swedish to get a decent job,” Lars Nyström, member of the Skurup City Council and Sweden Democrats group leader, told Expressen. According to him, immigrants are free speak their own languages when they go home.
For historic reasons, Finnish was for centuries Sweden's second most widely-spoken language, but was estimated to have been surpassed by Arabic at some point in 2018. This shift is largely due to an influx of asylum seekers from the Arabic-speaking countries amid the European migrant crisis. In 2015 alone, Sweden took in 163,000 asylum seekers, most of them from Arabic-speaking Muslim countries.
Other prominent languages spoken in Sweden are, according to linguist Mikael Parkvall, BCMS (Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian) with over 130,000 speakers, as well as Kurdish, Polish and Persian (with over 70,000 each).