In this article, we look at the discourse used by the Swedish state in describing non-European migrants, among them Syrians, and how this has constructed cultural divisions between ‘native’ Swedes and Syrian migrants. We reveal how non-European immigrants are depicted and treated by the state as coming from ‘patriarchal’ and ‘collectivist’ cultures and are therefore in need of development. We then connect this framing of migrant culture to how honour-related violence is constructed by the state and public institutions and explain how such a framing of violence is problematic. We also look at how some Syrian migrants have in turn employed stereotypical language in their depiction of Swedish culture and the Swedish state. Engaging with existing work on ethnic groups and boundaries, we find that this boundary-making process by both migrants and the state produces a perception of difference among groups.