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Sofyan Aswad: ”Only members of the family or friends can get a job there”

Cultural clashes are not only about differences in traditions and lifestyles. In some countries people think that fiddling and cheating the state is a good thing, to get bigger allowances. They think it is really smart, something to be admired. Things are very differernt in Sweden.
Sofyan Aswad, journalist Kb Mosaik.
Sofyan Aswad, journalist Kb Mosaik.
Foto: Lasse Ottosson
Detta är en personligt skriven text i mosaik.kristianstadsbladet. Åsikter som uttrycks är skribentens egna.

When I came to Sweden I applied for asylum at Migrationsverket in Kristianstad. I was given a questionnaire in Arabic. Among the questions were: Do you own a house? Do you have a car? How much money do you have at present? I answered that I had about 900 euros.

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We came to Sweden from the same country. There it is considered smart to fiddle and cheat the authorities

Then I moved to temporary accomodation in Broby. I waited for a letter from an administrator. After a while a friend asked me, ”How much is your allowance from Migrationsverket?”

– Nothing.

– Why?

– I’ve no idea.

– Did you say on the form that you have some money?

– Yes.

– You’re stupid. Why did you tell them you have money? You won’t get any allowance until you’ve no money left.

After four months I got my first ”pay” from Migrationsverket, 2, 200 crowns a month.

In Sweden there is no need to be dishonest to avail yourself of the benefits and rights that are yours by law. Stock image.
In Sweden there is no need to be dishonest to avail yourself of the benefits and rights that are yours by law. Stock image.
Foto: JONAS EKSTRÖMER / TT

I really understand my friend. We came to Sweden from the same country. There it is considered smart to fiddle and cheat the authorities. You have to, in order to survive. The state is your enemy. Only members of the family or friends can get a job there. That’s how corruption among friends works.

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There is nothing in print telling you that you as a parent are entitled to a parents’ allowance, as there is in Sweden

There it is difficult to claim what is due to you. There is nothing in print telling you that you as a parent are entitled to a parents’ allowance, as there is in Sweden.

So you must always try to get round the system, or avoid telling the whole truth to be able to get what you are entitled to.

Our taxes go to health care, schools and care of the elderly. Stock image.
Our taxes go to health care, schools and care of the elderly. Stock image.
Foto: Anton Hedberg

Unfortunately some people think that things work the same way here in Sweden.

I know some people who speak openly about getting allowances from the welfare system at the same time as they have an illegal job. That is disgraceful.

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I know some people who speak openly about getting allowances from the welfare system at the same time as they have an illegal job. That is disgraceful

These people think they are smart. They don’t believe they are doing anything illegal, they just think the same way as they did before – it is a cultural clash.

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You can learn new things, and try to reach new goals in the future. Many education programmes are free

I admit that finding a job can be hard, unemployment has risen during the corona pandemic. But you can learn new things, and try to reach new goals in the future. Many education programmes are free – and they can lead to a job.

When my residence permit came through I was called to an information meeting for new arrivals about how Swedish society works. I was given important information about what laws apply and about society in general. But sadly we don’t trust the governments in our own countries, so we didn’t wholly trust the information we were given.

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I have come to realise that the money the swindlers get by fraud comes from the taxes we all must pay

Through time, when I’d learnt the language and become part of society, I began to understand – we live in a democratic country which respects everyone’s rights.

And I have come to realise that the money the swindlers get by fraud comes from the taxes we all must pay. In Sweden there is no need to be dishonest to avail yourself of the benefits and rights that are yours by law. They are there for you, when you need them.