Swedish party leaders traditionally hold summer speeches on their home turf during the holiday season and Saturday was the turn of the Sweden Democrats’ Jimmie Åkesson.
A crowd of a few hundred people had gathered in Åkesson’s home town of Sölvesborg in Sweden’s far south to hear the 35-year-old launch the party’s push towards the general election in September.
Following a sweeping review of the current global conflict zones, Åkesson shifted focus to Islam. “Islamism is the Nazism and Communism of our time,” he said, prompting the most generous applause of the afternoon.
Furthermore Åkesson said that he demanded that all aid to organizations and associations related to “Islamism” should be stopped, and directed his ire to the handful of Swedish citizens reported to be fighting in Iraq and Syria. “You guys can stay there. Sweden is no longer your home, this country built on Christian principles.”
Swedish police suspect arson after buildings at a mosque in Norrköping in eastern Sweden burned down in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Some of the buildings have been saved but there is a great deal of damage, both smoke and water damage,” said Stefan Hagdahl at the emergency services in Östergötland to the local Nörrköpings Tidning daily.
Up to 14 fire fighters from two fire stations in the city battled the blaze which was reported shortly after 1am on Friday. The fire ravaged some surrounding buildings. The main mosque building managed to escape damage thanks to the efforts of the fire fighters.
According to Norrköping Islamic Centre the buildings were due to have been rebuilt into a new mosque. “We hope that this is cleared up as soon as possible so that the project can be continued,” the centre wrote in a statement.
A Swedish woman wearing a Muslim headscarf claims security staff at a small northern airport tugged on her hijab in public rather than take up her offer to take it off away from prying eyes.
“The female guard asked me ‘What’s on your head’,” recalled state employee Saama Sarsour, who told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper about her treatment at Arvidsjaur airport in northern Sweden.
After the metal detector beeped, Sarsour was asked to remove the cloth. She responded by asking if the guard could first scan the rest of her body and if she could remove her scarf in a different room, not in public. “Then the woman grabbed the scarf and started yanking it,” Sarsour told SvD. “I was totally shocked.”
The anti-fascist publication Expo has reported that Kamil Ryba, head of the EDL’s sister organisation the Swedish Defence League, has been sentenced to six months in prison for threatening the staff at GT, the Göteborg edition of the Swedish daily Expressen.
Ryba turned up at the GT offices last December to protest against Expressen publishing the names of people who had anonymously incited racial hatred. He threw an egg and said he would come back with a knife next time. Ryba subsequently returned and left a package containing a knife and a copy of the Qur’an, which was addressed to the editors of Expressen and GT. The package was seen as a possible bomb threat and GT staff were forced to evacuate the building.
Ryba pleaded not guilty. According to GT, he claimed that by including a knife with the Qur’an he intended to convey that Islam is a violent ideology, not a religion. However, he was convicted of the offence of violating civil liberty, on the grounds that he had made threats that endangered freedom of expression. Ryba’s lawyer stated that he will appeal against the verdict.
In the wake of several high-profile incidents, Muslim groups in Sweden plan to carry out a comprehensive survey of threats facing the country’s mosques.
The Muslim Council of Sweden (Sveriges muslimska råd, SMR) is concerned that several mosques and prayer centres have been vandalized and damaged in the last year, Sveriges Radio (SR) reports. There have also been several instances of threats and harassment.
“It’s only a matter of time until someone is seriously injured or dies,” SMR chair Helena Hummasten told the broadcaster. A study carried out five years ago by Mid Sweden University revealed that four out of ten Muslim congregations had been subjected to crimes, and Hummasten believes things have gotten worse since then.
A top Sweden Democrat defending a racism-accused colleague has claimed the Koran states that “rape is a Muslim form of punishment”. The prime minister quickly joined a choir of critics and said it illustrated the minority party’s us-versus-them rhetoric.
The latest controversy stemming from statements by top brass of the far-right nationalist party started with a Facebook post by Michael Hess, vice chair of the Sweden Democrats in Karlskrona in southern Sweden, in which he wrote that “rape is deeply rooted in Islamic culture”.
When asked about Hess’ comments, Linus Bylund, press secretary for party leader Jimme Åkesson, said the statement couldn’t be construed as racist because it was factual. “It says in the Koran that rape can be used against women who have been unfaithful. It’s a Muslim form of punishment,” Bylund told the Blekinge Läns Tidning (BLT) newspaper.
When pressed by BLT about which passage in the Koran condoned rape as a form of punishment, Bylund said he did not know. “I’m not sure exactly. I don’t know exactly what’s stated in the Koran, but it’s been shown that that’s the case.”
Last Thursday morning, members of the Stockholm Muslim congregation arrived at the mosque on Södermalm to find the doors were covered in Nazi graffiti. By Monday morning, however, a much more positive display had taken their place: bouquets of pink and white flowers were taped over the black swastikas, and a note of solidarity was tied to the door. “For every hate crime there is a flower,” the sign read. “An attack on you is an attack on Sweden! We stand together!”
Flowers were also placed outside the mosque in Fittja, which had its windows smashed and pig feet tossed in back in November, as well as a Hagsätra church which had also been vandalized with swastikas last Friday.
“I thought society was moving the wrong direction. But now my view changed 180 degrees,” Omar Mustafa, chairman of the Swedish Islamic Association, told The Local. “Members of the congregation arrived for the morning prayer at 7am and called me saying there were flowers on the mosque. They sent me a picture and I felt strength and encouragement in a whole new way.”
The doors to the central Stockholm mosque were covered in Nazi graffiti on Wednesday night, the first time vandalism has taken the shape of swastikas, representatives said.
The swastikas, which cover the men’s entrance to the mosque on Sodermalm island in Stockholm, were discovered on Thursday morning. The mosque was vandalized a month ago, but the damage was not overtly political. “It is the first time it’s been this way, it is usually normal graffiti but this is quite special,” mosque representative Mahmoud Khalif told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Prominent figures in the Islamophobic far-right party the Sweden Democrats, including Kent Ekeroth, have fallen victim to a prank, Nyheter24 reports.
A gardener in Gothenburg who said he suffered months of racist and sexual abuse at work has taken his case to Sweden’s equality watchdog, stating he was told to cut his Islamic beard to resemble George Michael in order not to upset “racist Swedes”.
The alleged abuse began at the interview stage, as the man was told he would have to cut his beard to work at the company. “Swedes are racist,” the employer said. Therefore it was necessary for the man to cut his beard as “we work for a Swedish company”.