Far-right Swedish politician faces expulsion for suggesting new mosque would help city
A Swedish far-right politician says he is facing possible expulsion after proposing that the municipality he represents build a mosque to draw in more immigrants.
Mark Collins, a 63-year-old municipal council member for the city of Kramfors, said he believed an influx of immigrants was the only solution to fight the city’s continuing population decline, according to The Local.
The politician represents the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigrant party, which he joined during the refugee crisis in 2015 when he felt that no other party was willing to have honest debates on the possible impact taking in so many immigrants could have on the country, The Telegraph reports.
Collins, an American who moved to Sweden in 1974 to be with his Swedish wife, said Kramfors has been losing about 100 people per year, and surrounding Västernorrland County has lost as many as 500 citizens annually.
In an interview with Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish newspaper, Collins said that Kramfors’ population has been cut in half over the last 30 years.
Even refugees placed in Kramfors during the 2015 crisis had moved south to more metropolitan areas.
“My idea is that if you have a mosque and a cultural center, then you empower the Muslims to be responsible for our town and the area up here,” Collins told The Local, adding, “Hopefully we will get a lot of them to come up and stay.”
But reaction from his party has been anything but supportive.
Henrik Gustafsson, the Sweden Democrats’ press chief, called the proposal “sickening,” in an interview with Nyheter Idag, a far-right news site.
“This is not our policy and never has been our policy,” Gustafsson said, adding, “It seems he hasn’t taken even a minute to read our list of fundamental principles, or check the facts with any other party colleagues.”
Now Collins says he is facing expulsion from the party as retaliation for his proposal, and he told The Local that he “read[s] on the internet that I’m going to get thrown out.”
Regardless of what happens to his party membership, Collins says the Sweden Democrats need to move beyond their focus on anti-immigrant principles.
“They lost the debate on immigration. They [the immigrants] are here. So we can’t just sit around whining about it. It’s over, and I think they [the Sweden Democrats] are having a hard time moving on.”
Collins said he believes the immigrant population was his city’s best hope at bringing in new residents and handling the population decline.
“Who else is going to come up here? The one group in Sweden that is mobile is the immigrant community, and they’re very business-minded, and that’s what we need, because there are opportunities galore up here, but there’s just not enough people.”