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FactCheck: Did Sweden shut down a music festival because of attacks carried out by migrants?

A Facebook post from TheLiberal.ie has been shared widely since it was posted earlier today.

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A FACEBOOK POST from website TheLiberal.ie has been shared widely since it was posted earlier today.

The article claims that Sweden’s largest annual music festival has been permanently cancelled “because of migrant sex attacks that have blighted it over the past few years”.

We’ve taken a closer look to see whether this claim is true.

The claim: “Sweden shut down biggest music festival because of the amount of migrant sex attacks that happen at the event”

The facts: The article says that Bråvalla, Sweden’s largest annual music festival, was cancelled after more than 40 girls, many of them minors, reported being sexually assaulted or harassed by “foreign” men” at the festival in 2017.

The article ties the sexual assaults to increasing immigration in the Scandinavian country, noting that Sweden has seen a “spectacular rise in crime, particularly sex crimes” since the government allowed large numbers of “Muslim migrants from the Middle East and Africa to settle in the country”.

The festival, which sold 52,000 tickets in 2016 and 45,000 tickets in 2017, was a major draw in Sweden; it was held annually outside of Norrköping beginning in 2013, with bands and musicians including Green Day, Kanye West, Kings of Leon and Calvin Harris headlining.

In 2016, local media reported that there were five alleged rapes and a number of sexual assaults at the festival.

In 2017, the last year it took place, police in the district of Ostergotland said that they had received four reports of rapes, 23 sexual assault reports and one report of sexual coercion from the four-day festival.

Organisers announced that the 2018 festival would not take place as a result of the attacks.

“Certain men… apparently cannot behave. It’s a shame. We have therefore decided to cancel Bråvalla 2018,” the festival’s organisers said in a statement in July 2017.

The attacks were condemned by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven who described them as “totally unacceptable” and said laws on sexual assault would be tightened in the country.

So there were reports of alleged sexual attacks at the festival. But were the alleged attacks carried out by migrants?

The short answer is no. Neither festival organisers nor police made any mention of migrants when they spoke about the attacks and why the festival was ending.

The chief police investigator at the time told the media that there were no suspects in the reported cases at the 2017 festival.

“Many reports (of sexual assault) come after they’ve happened so there are weak descriptions (of the suspects) and nothing more to go on,” he told AFP.

Police in 2016 noted that the descriptions of the perpetrators of the alleged attacks at festivals “are diverse” but with one common denominator: “These are all young men”.

It was not the first time that there were similar rumours about a Swedish festival. In 2016, police in the Varmland region initially claimed that alleged assaults at another festival had been carried out by “foreign young men”, saying that young asylum seekers had been involved. Soon afterwards, the statement was taken down and retracted when it emerged that a total of two of the people arrested for the 35 reported assaults were immigrants.

And following another festival in 2014 and 2015, police were accused of withholding information about the alleged sexual assaults against women by young immigrants. However the Swedish prosecutor’s office later dropped an investigation into the case.

So in this case, there is no evidence that the attacks at Bråvalla were carried out by migrants.

CONCLUSION:  There is an element of truth in the claim, but it is missing critical details. In this case, there is no evidence that migrants carried out the attacks. Therefore we rate this claim Mostly FALSE.

With reporting by AFP 

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

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