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  Iraqi Refugees Find Sweden's Doors Closing
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Last EditedArmyDem  Apr 10, 2008 08:14am
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MediaNewspaper - Washington Post
News DateThursday, April 10, 2008 02:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionImmigrants Overtax System, Critics Say

By Mary Jordan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, April 10, 2008; Page A01

SODERTALJE, Sweden -- Behind the wheel of his old Ford Escort, Oshin Merzoian puttered happily along snowy streets. Back home in Baghdad, he said, he always drove at crazy speeds to avoid killers and kidnappers.

But here in "Little Baghdad," as this city that has accepted roughly as many Iraqi refugees as the entire United States is called, Merzoian is enjoying the luxuries of living in peace. He doesn't strap on a gun for protection, and he notes that Swedish police worry more about seat belts than roadside bombs.

"Even if they remake Iraq from gold and diamonds, I wouldn't go back," said Merzoian, 31, a computer programmer who said he arrived last year after a 10-day trip hidden in a smuggler's truck with his wife and two young children.

Sweden, which has one of the world's most welcoming refugee policies, has become the new home of 40,000 Iraqis since the war began in 2003. Last year alone, more than 18,000 Iraqi refugees came to Sweden. According to the State Department, the United States has taken in roughly 6,000 Iraqis in programs for refugees and translators.
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