14:39 GMT14 July 2020
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    Earlier this month, the Church held prayers throughout the country for migrants who are in the midst of the asylum process in the hope that God would stop the expulsions, sparking accusations of political activism and “left-wing liberal propaganda”.

    The Church of Sweden in Norrbotten, together with several other parishes across the country, is launching a nationwide impact campaign to ensure that all 'unaccompanied' migrant children are allowed to stay in Sweden, regardless of whether they have valid asylum reasons or not.

    The campaign, called “Keep Sweden Together” was launched during a mass held in the church of Arvidsjaur, national broadcaster SVT reported. The Church demands that migrants who have spent longer than a year in Sweden should be granted permanent residence permits, regardless of their asylum cases.

    “The treatment of the unaccompanied migrants is a shame for the whole of Sweden,” organiser Mats Klockljung told SVT.

    According to the campaign's website, amnesty is presented not only as a humanitarian, but as a reasonable solution as well.

    “Many of Sweden's lone refugee children have been here for several years. Sweden's treatment of these young people divides families, school classes, sports teams and congregations across the country. <...> Besides, we all need young people. In the health care system, in the elderly care, in the service industry and in many other professions where there is a shortage of labour,” the campaign said.

    The campaign chose a crocheted doll with a veil and a backpack as its symbol.

    However, what the national broadcaster omitted and what the news outlet Samhällsnytt pointed out is that Klockljung is not an activist, but a Centre party politician and a member of the Arvidsjaur municipal council.

    “The Swedish Church launches a nationwide impact campaign to allow all 'unaccompanied' migrants without asylum reasons to stay in Sweden. This is left-wing liberal propaganda, with no root in reality, from the church itself,” blogger Micke69 tweeted.

    ​Many suggested that the Church of Sweden has become “politicised” and “infiltrated”. This is not the first time the Church of Sweden has engaged in political activism to the support the migrants' cause.

    In mid-January, prayers were held throughout the country for migrants who are in the midst of the asylum process in the hope that God would stop the expulsions. In addition to calling on God, however, the church has also produced a glossary of Christian concepts in Dari (an Afghan dialect of Farsi) to improve opportunities for converts.

    Earlier, Swedish priests were reported holding sermons in support of immigration, whereas Archbishop Antje Jackelén launched a Christmas petition calling on the authorities to eliminate the obstacles for the re-unification of migrant families.

    The Church of Sweden was also accused of providing illegal immigrants with refuge.

    In the peak year of 2015, a record 35,369 unaccompanied children applied for asylum. The most popular countries of origin are Afghanistan, followed by Somalia, Syria, Eritrea and Iraq. Starting from the following year, however, their numbers dropped sharply, mainly due to internal border controls between Denmark and Sweden and the EU's migration agreement with Turkey.

    The issue remains a fraught one due to suspicions of widespread age cheating. If a “child” lacks valid ID documents or other documentation supporting the stated age, an age assessment, including medical procedures, can be made in collaboration between the Swedish Migration Board and the Forensic Medicines Agency. This process, however, has sparked a debate on ethics, precision in the measurement method and legal certainty.

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    Tags:
    immigration, Church, Scandinavia, Sweden
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