The Apathetic

”Without doubt, this is a disgrace to Sweden on a par with the extradition of the Balts or the forcible sterilisation of the mentally impaired. And Tamas should obviously be given great recognition for having uncovered this matter.”

Joakim Molander, Svenska Dagbladet

In the summer of 2004 they suddenly become headline news. Asylum seeking children that have stopped speaking, that are no longer eating or drinking and lie motionless in their beds, like living dead. The media dub them the “apathetic children”. And soon the rumours begin to spread. The children are not sick at all. A public enquiry concludes that both manipulation and poisoning are reasons that could explain the state of these children. Swedish police carry child after child out of their beds and place them on board aircraft to be transported out of the country. And the Swedish minister of migration states: It would amount to a “humanitarian disaster” to allow the apathetic children to stay.

When Tamas begins to look more closely at the rumours that are circulating it soon becomes clear that it is not the children that are manipulating, but rather the pillars of society itself. In a book that is as elaborate as it is uncomfortable Tamas shows how accommodating politicians, unsuspecting journalists, organised right-wing extremists and doctors and psychiatrists in high positions together created a picture of the apathetic children – a picture based on prejudice, urban legends and intentional disinformation.

The Apathetic, published in the autumn of 2009, is one of the most acclaimed journalistic books in recent years, placed at the top of the critics’ lists in both the daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter and the culture news program at Swedish Public Service Television, Kulturnyheterna. The book also caused a heated debate where the head of the Social Democratic party, Mona Sahlin, publicly apologised: “I feel great shame over parts of the reasoning of my own party … this is not a part of the Swedish refugee- and integration policy that I feel proud of.”

”The Apathetic is no less than a masterpiece… In his book The Apathetic, just like he did in The Laserman, Tamas has portrayed yet another infected part of Swedish history.”

Rakel Chukri, Sydsvenskan

“The most important reportage since the second Wold War.”

Maciej Zaremba, Dagens Nyheter

“Through an enormous work of research Tamas not only punctures rumours of manipulation and simulation. He also depicts, convincingly and in detail, a reversed witch-hunt, where adults with power – ministers, psychologists, psychiatrists, police and journalists – without any evidence gave false testimonies against children. The Apathetic is a journey to hell…”

Ann-Charlotte Altstadt, Aftonbladet

”I love the question: How do you know? Gellert Tamas’ book The Apathetic is a downright display of clever investigative journalism that poses exactly that question, over and over again. The result is a brilliant report on the myths surrounding the apathetic refugee children.”

Lena Kvist, Smålandsposten

”A masterpiece of Sweden’s most skillful investigative writer.”

Kulturnyheterna, Sveriges Television

“Gellert Tamas has written a book that ought to be mandatory reading for politicians, civil servants, journalists, well, for everyone who is at all interested in the state of the nation.”

Gabriel Byström, Göteborgsposten

“I’m reading and reading and without doubt this is the most upsetting book that I have read in many years… Gellert Tamas book screams: J’accuse! As I close the book I don’t know what to say or think, I only know that I’m shaking.”

Stig Hansén, Helsingborgs Dagblad