Swedish Military Runs Targeted Ads in Arabic for the Sake of Diversity

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swedish military, sweden armed forces, diversity strategy, targeted ads, arabic language

swedish military, sweden armed forces, diversity strategy, targeted ads, arabic language

By the military’s own admission, the campaign of targeted ads is meant to increase its legitimacy, as diversity is seen as a means of increasing capabilities.

The Swedish Armed Forces have for several years strived to increase diversity within its organization. Now they are trying a new approach through targeted ads on the Arabic-language news site Alkompis in the hope of attracting more recruits from a non-Swedish background.

The more different we are, the more dangerous we are to the enemy,” the Swedish military declared, further claiming that diversity is good and necessary to strengthen capabilities.

The purpose of the campaign is to increase the legitimacy of the Armed Forces,” the military told Swedish media.

“Diversity and equality is ultimately about seeing and respecting each individual, but also about creating a more inclusive culture within the defense forces. It increases the ability to adapt – which is required to stand strong in the fast-changing world we live in – and to find new solutions,” it said.

The site Alkompis describes itself as “a Swedish media house in Arabic, as opposed to an Arabic media house in Sweden” and was founded in 2012 by Mahmoud Agha, formerly of Swedish Radio. It claims to be ad-financed but it also benefits from tax breaks.

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The decision to run targeted ads in Arabic has drawn sharp criticism on social media.

Josefin Utas, formerly active in the Green Party and the Citizens’ Assembly, said that as a Swedish speaker with no knowledge of Arabic, she had to turn to an Arabic-speaking friend who said that the ad read: “What we do today, we do for the sake of the future. We grow and develop and change in the shadow of the world’s deteriorating situation.”

Josefin Utas added: “I am writing this to tell you about what is happening in Sweden. There are also things to discuss here. Is it reasonable for our armed forces to communicate in a language foreign to Swedes? Do politicians really mean it when they claim that it is important for immigrants to learn Swedish? How do you achieve cohesion in a country that is becoming increasingly divided.”

The news was not well-received on Twitter and one user fumed: “The Swedish Armed Forces advertising in Arabic? First LGBTQ Drag queens and now the Arabs. So they are going to defend Sweden. When reading fairy tales is banned and the benefits cease, will we ourselves go to the front or will the drag queens scare the enemy away?”

Another one wrote sarcastically: “By God, we need cannon fodder for the impending Russian invasion. One way ticket to paradise is promised, bro. Sincerely, the Armed Forces,” also having a poke at the Swedish military’s obsession with the “Russian invasion” which is often used as a reason for expanding the budget.

Others have questioned what people who cannot speak Swedish have to do in the armed forces at all, or what they are expected to contribute. Others see the ad as clear evidence of how politicized the armed forces have become.

Previous attempts to increase diversity in the admittedly understaffed ranks of the Swedish military include ads geared towards women and immigrants at large.

After a decade of mass immigration, during which the nation of some 10 million took in 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 alone, Arabic overtook Finnish as Sweden’s second most widely spoken native tongue (with an estimated 400,000 speakers of Arabic against some 200,000 speakers of Finnish). There are both local media and national broadcasts available in Arabic, alongside book fairs and other events. Arabic reportedly has become the main language in some preschools and schools, as immigrant communities tend to form clusters in and around major cities, such as Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo.





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