In Botkyrka, anti-rumours cafés have been set up in libraries as a public platform to discuss and explore rumours and prejudices. Libraries were chosen as they are well attended by young people aged 18-25 years old.
4 anti-rumour cafés were set up and each one focused on a particular rumour. The initial theme was “Criminality” (the most prominent theme of rumours in Botkyrka), followed by “incompatibility of the Swedish and immigrant cultures”, “Unequal distribution of public resources” and “Swedish culture is under threat”. The rumour-theme, “Swedish culture is under threat”, was among the most visited café. This can be explained by the political situation in Sweden IN 2014. The populist party, Swedish democrats, had recently achieved their best election result to date, raising questions for citizens all over Sweden, not least those in Botkyrka. This notion of a threatened ‘Swedishness’ is often illustrated by the feeling that Swedish traditions are no longer being celebrated or performed as they used to be and that “the good old days” are dying out.
However, irrespective of the level of interest in a rumour theme, it was noticed that in the early stages of the project attendance by majority Swedes was poor in certain locations. Part of the explanation may relate to the effect of the rumours themselves: When cafés were organized in Alby, Fittja and Norsborg/Hallunda (areas of high immigrant populations), the level of interest among majority Swedes was lower. Statistically, majority Swedes preferred to attend the cafés in Tumba and Tullinge, with lower concentrations of immigrants. This challenge was addressed by organising “extra invitations” addressed to target groups from different demographic areas (Tullinge and Tumba). In addition, invitations and information about all the events were disseminated through social media (facebook, internal web etc).
The main goal of each café was to encourage people to talk about rumours that they usually feel uncomfortable discussing, and the survey of the participants indicate that this goal was accomplished. The participants reflected on how “true” the rumours all over Botkyrka were and gave examples from their own lives. One general outcome was a widespread belief that rumours lead to depression and that the need of dialogue is huge!