Abuse or ‘show’? Disturbing video from Swedish refugee center sparks probe

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An asylum seeker has been filmed on camera appearing to have a nervous breakdown at a Swedish refugee center following an altercation with a social worker. An investigation is under way – but a worker said the incident was staged.

The incident was captured on film at a refugee shelter near the city of Jonkoping in central Sweden and was published by Swedish Radio. The footage shows a refugee of Middle Eastern origin involved in an argument with a social worker, The Local reported.

The youth can be heard pleading with the man, saying: “Please, please, please.” However, the worker reacts angrily, and can be heard shouting at the asylum seeker: “Show respect!”

The cause of the dispute is unknown, though there is a broken table visible in the background. The asylum seeker at the center of the dispute, who was wearing a red T-shirt and grey pants, gets considerably angrier as the argument goes on. The youth screams at the worker: “You have a problem with me?” before moving closer to the Swedish man and shouting: “Fight me! Fight me! Fight me!” before getting down on his knees.

The social worker appears to slap the asylum seeker who falls to the ground and begins to scream hysterically. Around half a dozen fellow refugees try to restrain the youth wearing the red T-shirt, who appears to suffer a nervous breakdown.

The social worker tried to restore calm and at one point threatened to call the police.

The worker claimed that the dispute had started shortly before the film was recorded and that the staff members were forced to lock themselves in their rooms for their own safety. The Swedish man at the center of the dispute claimed that the youth wearing the red T-shirt was the ringleader of the refugees and that the event had been staged so that it would be caught on camera.

"He said that this youth, the boy who fell down on the floor, is just acting. It’s all a show. That’s what the man who you hear shouting says," said Alexandra Svedberg, who reported the story for Swedish Radio, as cited by The Local.

The authorities in Jonkoping say they are looking into the incident. “We are doing an investigation. There was a conflict between those who live there and the staff,” a spokesman for the Jonkoping municipality told Swedish Radio.

Meanwhile, a brawl broke out involving around 20 people at a refugee center in Orust, north of Gothenburg, late Sunday evening. The staff were forced to lock themselves in their rooms while they waited for the police to arrive.

“There was fighting and rioting right through the night,” police representative Stefan Gustafsson said, Aftonbladet reported.

The fight allegedly started after a man smashed a TV set and a window. Gustafsson said that a group of refugees fought with the man after he vandalized the property, while another group waded in to try and stop the brawl.

This latest incidents come just over a week after the death of a 22-year-old Swedish social worker who was stabbed to death while working at a refugee facility for teenagers in Molndal near Gothenburg. The victim, psychology graduate Alexandra Mezher, was reportedly working the night shift alone when she was attacked by a 15-year-old asylum seeker.

“She worked at the center for about four months. She wanted to continue with her studies, but wanted to have a job to get experience first,” Alexandra’s best friend, Lejla Filipovic, told RT. The aspiring social worker was of Lebanese origin, but born and raised in Sweden, her friend added.

The fatal stabbing caused outrage across Sweden. A group of 40 to 50 masked men went on the rampage in Stockholm in retaliation to Mezher’s death and began to beat up anyone who did not look to be an ethnic Swede.

The rampage followed a rally of some 200 people, who protested the presence of refugees in the North European country, Aftonbladet reported. They were handing out leaflets saying: “Enough now.”

Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman confirmed in January that the country is planning to expel around 80,000 refugees and migrants who had their asylum applications rejected.

Sweden, which has the population of 9.8 million people, is one of the EU countries that took in the highest share of refugees per head of population. In 2015, it accepted over 160,000 refugees and migrants.

However, the level of new arrivals has plunged since the beginning of January, when Sweden introduced systematic photo ID border checks, after stating that it has reached its limit in terms of receiving asylum seekers.