Demographic changes reflected in the Finnish name calendar

Name days are a tradition in Finland with roots already in the 14th century going back to the tradition of naming days of the year by Christian saints. Today, all Finnish calendars have a certain or several female and male names added to each of the days of the year and thus the “name day” can be individually celebrated by 84 % of the Finnish population. The National Broadcasting Company YLE reported in June, that Muslims names are to be added to the calendars in the future. Since the 1980’s new names have been added to the calendar by their frequency and since 2010 the requirement has been over 500 Finnish native speakers having the given name. The decision on which name will be added to the national calendars are made in the official calendar office of the Helsinki University and the calendars are updated accordingly every five years.

Minna Saarelma-Paukkala, lecturer in onomastics at the University of Helsinki, commented in an interview for YLE, that popular Muslim names such as Mohammed and Omar will be added to calendars. At the moment there are about 200 persons who are native Finnish speakers and have been named Mohammed, for the name Omar the number is over 100. Saarelma-Paukkala noted that although with the current demographic developments, also partly due to families of mixed cultures Muslim names will reach the requirement of 500 individuals, the addition of the name to the calendar will be discussed separately with the Muslim community as name-days are not an Islamic tradition.

European Islamophobia Report for 2015 now published

The Annual European Islamophobia Report for 2015, sponsored and published by the leading think-thank in Turkey, SETA, has been released online. The report comprises of lengthy country reports with qualitative data from 25 European countries and aims to address the vast problem Islamophobia that poses a threat to the foundations of European constitutions. 37 scholars and Islamophobia experts from all over Europe worked together with SETA staff and the editors Farid Hafez and Enes Bayrakli for the project. As also countries from Eastern Europe are included, the report contributes significantly to the distribution of knowledge on Islamophobia in different European societies and thus presents a valuable reference for policy makers.

The country report on Finland covers several sectors of society in which generally Islamophobic discourse and behavior can be observed; education, politics, employment, media, Internet, the justice system and networks. The report findings show that Islamophobia has become evident in the public discourse, meaning diverse discussion forums of online newspapers and several social media channels. It also notes the role of the politics in spreading misunderstood information on Islam and Muslims and how especially in the right-wing-populistic discourse the threat of an Islamization of Finland is used to push forward agendas.

The report can be found in full length and in English language under

http://www.islamophobiaeurope.com/reports/2015/en/EIR_2015_FINLAND.pdf

For the project website and other country reports, see

www.islamophobiaeurope.com

Ramadan fasting dilemma when sun never sets

 

Practising Muslims across the world are observing Ramadan. For one month, they are fasting between first light and sunset. But what do Muslims do in a town where the sun never really goes down? The town of Rovaniemi in Finland lies in a land of extremes. At 66 degrees north it straddles the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland. During midwinter it is cloaked in total darkness. But in the summer it is bathed in daylight. The long days pose a particular problem for fasting Muslims like Shah Jalal Miah Masud. The 28-year-old moved to Rovaniemi – 830km (515 mile) north of the capital, Helsinki – from Bangladesh five years ago to study IT. He has not had any food or water for 21 hours. Masud says it is difficult to fast according to Finnish time and admits he is tired. But despite the hunger and fatigue, he says it is a pleasure to observe Ramadan during the long Finnish days.

 

There is another option which reduces the number of fasting hours – mark its duration by the rising and setting of the sun in countries far to the south of Finland. Dr Abdul Mannan – a local Imam and president of the Islam Society of Northern Finland – says there are two schools of thought. “The Egyptian scholars say that if the days are long – more than 18 hours – then you can follow the Mecca time or Medina time, or the nearest Muslim country time,” says Dr Mannan. “The other (point of view) from the Saudi scholars says whatever the day is – long or short – you have to follow the local time.” Dr Mannan says the majority of Muslims in northern Finland observe either Mecca’s fasting hours or Turkish time because it is the nearest Muslim country to Finland.

 

Nafisa Yeasmin recalls her first Ramadan in Rovaniemi when she decided to fast according to Finnish daylight hours, going without food for up to 20 hours a day. “It was very difficult to follow because in Bangladesh we are used to 12 hours’ daytime and 12 hours’ night-time,” she says. “Then I thought, not any more. I have to follow Mecca’s timetable. But I’m a little bit worried whether Allah will accept it or not.”

2013 Stockholm Riots: a brief overview

Emin Poljarevic

 

The riots have exhausted their destructive energy sweeping through several of Stockholm’s suburbs. In the northern suburb of Husby where the unrests started, the rioting lasted from Sunday evening, May 19 until Wednesday, May 22. Several other Stockholm suburbs, similar to Husby, 23 in total, experienced unrest albeit on the smaller scale. These suburbs are primarily inhabited by a second and third generation immigrants as well as newly arrived immigrant residents many of those have fled from the devastating conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The unrests were primarily been expressed through burning of a large number of private cars followed by stone throwing on the arriving police units and the fire fighters. Curiously, this seemingly senseless wave of destruction of cars did not include burning shops or residential buildings in any direct way, nor did it include looting of stores and local shops. The reasons behind the riots are certainly complex and multifaceted, nevertheless, deeply rooted in segregation manifested in a range of socio-economic parameters.

 

Many of the local residents, especially the younger generations have been experiencing higher rates of unemployment in comparison to other residential areas of Stockholm both in relative and real terms. Subsequently, the media and public perception that the crime rates as being higher in these areas has effected the law enforcement strategies which had become stricter and more violent over the course of years. It is reported that during the recent period the police has started to stop-and-search a large number of teenagers in Husby and neighbouring suburbs as a strategy to disrupt narcotics distribution and consumption. This strategy included a controversial policing method, which increasingly targeted teenagers without previous criminal record through which the authorities frequently conducted house searches thus intensely invading people’s privacy on weak or non-existent ground. This is something that would be unimaginable in the more exclusive suburbs. It is during one of the police-raids in Husby that a police officer shot and killed an aggressive 68-year old man (May 13), which was later interpreted as a flagrant brutality by the neighbours and residents in the area. The 29-year-old officer has also been placed under investigation for the alleged overuse of violence during the incident. Numerous witnesses have also complained of open racism among a number of police officers that had used racial slurs when addressing young people in the suburbs. Such incidents are readily narrated and certainly overstressed in conversations adding to the collective frustrations. These and other similar fragments of perceived grievances are easily detectable however they are insufficient to explain the reason behind the rioting.

 

For instance, it is impossible to disregard that the rate of unemployment in Husby is 8,8% while it is only 3,3% in the city of Stockholm, or that the average salary in Husby is 195,000 SEK/year (€21,600/year) before taxes, while its equivalent in the city of Stockholm is 68% higher. Is this sufficient to explain the causes behind rioting? It is unlikely, to say the least. Nevertheless, one needs to keep in mind that in a welfare state of the Swedish model there has been a traditional focus on (economic and social) equality involving the welfare of children and young people expectation on the state/municipalities to deliver a high standard of civic services is high. Public places of gathering, such as parks, playgrounds, recreational facilities and municipal public facilities are some of the areas where the current (centre-right) government has, if not neglected, but seriously mismanaged. A deep sense of distrust and neglect is what can be heard from some of the young people in the suburbs, “we will continue until we are noticed”. In addition, many of the residents, including the young rioters, understood the prime minister’s (Fredrik Reinfeldt) choice not to go to Husby or any other affected areas to address the people there as the confirmation of being neglected.

 

Another important component behind the rioting in the suburbs is an element of hooliganism directly related criminal activities of a substantial number of rioters (30-100). A well-known Professor of Criminology at the University of Stockholm, Jerzy Sarnecki, commented that there are a thousand reasons for the “bad boys” to start rioting, however, their activities are fundamentally criminal. The group dynamic often triggers more and more audacious behaviour that assumes a destructive logic of its own and that is often replicated by other impudent groups of young individual males. This is also shown by the number of arrested youth, which topped 44 individuals within a week of the start of the unrests. Out of 44 young males, an overwhelming majority was “known to the police” as having criminal records adding some strength to the previous assertion. A social activists and resident of Husby, said that one of the instigators of violent attacks on the police has long been a trouble–maker in the area, involved in an assortment of criminal activity with an extensive network of contacts among the youth in northern Stockholm (reported to the author June 2). Moreover, the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) has reported that there have been a substantial number of left-wing extremists who had participated in the unrests (i.e. stone-throwing on the police). This indicates that there has been a presence of both “professional” demonstrators and individuals with extensive criminal records adding to the complexity of these events.

 

But, where does Islam, fit in this overview? It is not unreasonable to assume that a large part of the residents are either from or have family ties to the Muslim majority societies. There is no official statistic over religious affiliation of Swedish citizens; nevertheless, the assumption is based on a large number of media sources and field research of a small number of academics in this area. First reactions of various community leaders that I spoke to expressly condemn the behaviour of the rioters, regardless of their faith. I gathered from several Friday sermons that the violence in the suburbs is condemned and viewed as a failure of the (Muslim) community in their efforts to engage the young individuals in more constructive endeavours. This can be translated into a notion that community leaders’ inability to create group activities interesting and exciting enough to attract those young people in the “risk zone” of “behaving badly” (author’s interviews with Muslim community leaders in Stockholm and Uppsala, May 26-June 2, 2013).

 

The Swedish mainstream media has not given any attention to the “religious factor” as an explanation for the unrests focusing instead its analysis on the related subject – integration. The articles and various interpretations in the newspaper articles and columns are riddled with statements such as “integration has failed” or “more is needed to carry the integration process forward”. If one is to believe these readings it is easy to argue that there are structural mechanisms that need attention and calibration to correct the “failures” (of integration process). This part of the explanation includes discrimination and segregation of immigrants and/or their descendants (i.e. second and third generation), which is being introduced into the policy agenda of both the government and the opposition. The mainstream political debate is therefore becoming increasingly focused on how to improve the system to come to a set of solutions that will defuse the risks of recurrence of the recent riots. The debate effectively excludes religion as any relevant element of recent rioting.

 

The only people linking Islam and Muslims directly as causes to the suburban upheavals are the extreme-right parties, including the Swedish Democrats – the only far-right party represented in the Swedish parliament, and its supporters. Virtual discussion forums, blogs and commentaries are riddled with “politically incorrect” arguments claiming to have “proved” their long-held convictions that the Muslims are in Sweden to essentially take over the country (e.g. Eurabia conspiracy etc.). Some more radical groups among the right wing extremists and neo-Nazi activists had attempted to organize “citizen militias” in order to patrol the outskirts of the affected suburbs thus assisting the police. Nevertheless, their efforts were either disrupted by the police or disbanded due to the organisational incoherence.

 

Now, in the end of the violent rioting, there is an upsurge of civil engagement in searching for long-term solutions to the youth-crisis. Secular and religious associations are coming together to discuss the recent violence and various strategies. Local residents, parents, groups of mothers and large numbers of young people seem to have realized that only they themselves can contribute to provide positive attitude and care for the disenfranchised youth, but also contribute to the improvement of the negative effects of segregation, racism and the perceived government neglect. At the moment we see several attempts to form neighbourhood committees and public forums through which both parents and teenagers are supposed to exchange both experiences and ideas about how to move forward. Religious communities are certainly highly important in this evolving process.

 

Keywords: Stockholm riots, Husby, Youth violence, Integration, Racism

 

 

“Riots – day by day” – “Upploppen – dag för dag” (Dagens Nyheter – Daily News)

http://www.dn.se/sthlm/upploppen-dag-for-dag

 

“The Police’s drug bust may have contributed to the riots” – “Polisens knarkinsats kan ha bidragit till upploppen” (Metro) http://www.metro.se/stockholm/polisens-knarkinsats-kan-ha-bidragit-till-upploppen/EVHmeE!21yn93g8g2zYY/

 

“The Police practical manual might have prevented the riots in Husby” – “Polisens handbok kunde stoppat upplopp i Husby” (Metro)

www.metro.se/nyheter/polisens-handbok-kunde-stoppat-upplopp-i-husby/EVHmeE!GrekMC9XyROzQ/

 

A Police officer is suspected of negligence – a 69-year-old died” – “Polis misstänks ha varit klantig – 69-åringen dog” (Nyheter24 – News24) nyheter24.se/nyheter/kronikor/746823-polisen-misstanks-ha-varit-klantig-69-aringen-dog

 

“Unrest in 23 places in Stockholm” – “Oroligheter på 23 platser i upploppens Stockholm” (Svenska Dagbladet – Swedish Daily News) www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_8207046.svd

 

“A survey on rioting in Stockholm’s suburbs” – “Undersökning om upploppen i Stockholms förorter” (Demoskop – Public Opinion Nalysis) www.demoskop.se/aktuellt/nyhet/undersokning-om-upploppen-i-stockholms-fororter/

 

“We will continue until we get noticed” – “Vi håller på tills vi blir sedda” (Svensk Television – Swedish Public Television)

http://www.svt.se/nyheter/sverige/forskaren-vastra-stockholm-ar-i-niva-med-rosengard

 

“If I see teenagers, I send them home” – “Ser jag tonåringar ute skickar jag hem dem” (Expressen – www.expressen.se/nyheter/dokument/ser-jag-tonaringar-ute-skickar-jag-hem-dem/

 

“After the Husby-riots, the police has been reported (for negligence) – by the police” – “Efter Husby-upploppen: Nu anmäls polisen – av polisen” (Nyheter24 – News24)

http://nyheter24.se/nyheter/inrikes/746347-efter-upploppen-i-husby-nu-anmals-polisen-av-polisen

29-year-old Muslim woman named culture minister of Norway

The first ever Muslim minister in the Norwegian Cabinet is Hadia Tajik of Pakistani origin, who was handed the culture portfolio

On Sunday, with no precedent in Norwegian history, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg appointed Hadia Tajik, a 29-year-old Muslim woman, as minister of culture, making Tajik the youngest minister in the Norwegian Cabinet and the first ever Muslim in the Norwegian government.

Tajik, of Pakistani origin, anounced that her programme will focus on cultural diversity as part of the Norwegian people’s daily lives and how this reflects on Norweigan society as a whole. The programme will delve into the protection of minority rights, whether cultural or racial, including the right of Muslims to wear the veil in public places, among other issues.

The new focus, however, will not be unopposed. Most right wing groups are against these policy changes, considering the increase in diversity in society a challenge to European culture.

Last year Anders Breivik randomly shot 69 people at a summer camp organised by the Workers’ Youth League (AUF) of the Labour Party after blowing up a Norweigan state building. During his trial, Breivik reasoned that multi-cultural policies are harming Norway, adding that he considers Islam his enemy.

Born in Strand, Norway, on 18 July 1983, Tajik studied human rights at the University of Kingston in the UK and holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and Master’s in law, the latter awarded by the University of Oslo this year.

An activist from a young age, Tajik led the Young Workers Movement between 1999 and 2002. She also worked as a political advisor to Norway’s minister of justice, 2008-2009. During this time Norweigan women members of the police were afforded the right to wear the veil at work. The decision was, however, rescinded due to harsh criticism from conservative parties.

In 2009, Tajik was elected to parliament as a member of the Labour Party in the Oslo constitutency. She was placed on a list of six seats generally considered safe for the party.

New Report: Danish Regulation of Religion, State of Affairs and Qualitative Reflections

From the Centre for European Islamic Thought, this report is part of the socio-legal research done in the European research project, RELIGARE. The report is based on qualitative interviews among Danish key profiles, religious and secular, and will feed into both Danish debate and into the ongoing work in RELIGARE.

In addition to supplying data from the interviews, the report works well as an introduction to Danish regulation of religion and as a discussion of current affairs.

———————-

1. State, Church and Religion in Denmark
1.1 Introduction to the socio-legal frame
Presenting a status of Danish legislation and the regulation of religion is by
nature a complex task that includes capturing political discourse, reflecting
theological discussions on especially the Folkekirke,1 and formulating a
careful analysis of administrative and legal practice. It would have been a
straightforward task if relations between the Danish State, the Church and
Religion had conformed to the rudimentary models suggested by Silvio
Ferrari (Ferrari & Bradney 2000) or by Roland Minnerath (2001).
However, the Danish regulative model of these matters differs in several
specific ways. Regarding its history and its legal state of affairs, Danish
regulation of religion cannot be said to conform to a single model based on
a civil judicial structure that would allow the churches to act independently,
as is the case in Germany, nor can it be claimed that Denmark has a
concordat or bilateral agreement between state, church and religion as in
the case of many countries with majority Catholic churches. Nor is
Denmark a secular country with a clear separation of religious communities
from the state, as is to some extent the case in France and even more so in
the United States (Christoffersen 2010B).
Rather, Denmark has a history of regulating religion that on the one hand
represents a particular understanding of Lutheranism in a majority context
after the European wars of religion (1524-1648, cujus regio, ejus religio),
and on the other hand presents some tense and difficult compromises in
Danish realpolitik. Since the introduction of the democratic constitution of
1849, Danish regulation of religion has firmly established the Evangelical
Lutheran Church as one of the four pillars of Danish society (§4 of the
constitution, Christoffersen 2010A) coupled with a dual constitutional
promise of autonomy and establishment. On the one hand, a law was
envisaged that would establish the Folkekirke as a self-determining and
autonomous institution independent of, but supported by, the state (§66 and
§4), and on the other hand, a law was to be framed to regulate on equal
terms the status of other religious communities with an expectation of
similar freedoms and responsibilities granted to the Folkekirke (§69).
However, no such laws were ever passed and instead of becoming a
societal institution supported by the state, the Folkekirke still resembles
more a state church than anything imagined by Martin Luther (Andersen
2010, 393). Furthermore, the constitution applied a legal framework for
1 It is common at this stage of a study to discuss how to translate the name of the
majority Evangelical Lutheran church in Denmark, which literally means the national
church or the people’s church (see Christoffersen 2010A). We have chosen to use the
Danish name Folkekirke.
10 Structural and Methodological Reflections
explicit recognition by royal decree of the few religious communities that
were already a reality in 1849. Among these is the Jewish community
(Danish: Mosaisk Trossamfund), which was recognised already in 1685.
This system of administrative recognition was extended after the
introduction of the constitution to include a list of Christian churches, such
as the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Russian church in
Copenhagen, the Norwegian, the Swedish and the English (Anglican)
Churches, the reformed churches, the Baptists, and the Methodists. The
system of recognition was changed just after the Second World War so that
religious communities such as Muslims and Buddhists who arrived after
1960 have only been ‘approved’ by the Minister of Church Affairs. They
are thus relegated to the administrative competences of the ministers and
permanent secretaries of changing ministerial departments and offices
(Christoffersen 2012).
During the 19th and 20th century several attempts were made to re-ignite
both the political and public debates and to re-open the legislative agendas
promised in the 1849 constitution. Three short-lived crises and subsequent
changes managed to put religion on the political agenda, only for it to be
neglected in the dawning reality of the succeeding governments. The first
change came in 1849, when three commissions were set up to clarify and
begin the promised legislative processes. The first two commissions of
1853 and 1868 were marooned in internal disagreement amongst the
different wings of the Folkekirke, while the Church Council of 1883 that
was set up to finally produce a workable political, ecclesiastical, and legal
compromise was disbanded in 1901. By this time the entire political
structure had been reformed with the introduction of the parliamentary
system, the end of any effective political power of the king, and the
formation of governments based on the mandate of the popular vote.
The second change came with the politico-economic arrangement of
1933 that aimed, firstly, to end a general conflict on the reduction of wages
between unions and employers; secondly, to avoid a threatening crisis for
Danish agricultural exports; and thirdly to open up for social reforms that
would build the foundation of the modern welfare state. Although religion
and church affairs had resurfaced in the Church Council that was active
from 1928 to 1939, the religio-political agenda gave way to the social
reformist agenda of the Social Democrat party, which in turn backed away
from a traditional leftist opposition to established religion. This reframed
and re-systematised the entire social welfare system and made it primarily
an issue of state rather than of other actors, including the churches. In
research on the subject (Østergaard 2005, Hansen, Petersen & Petersen
2010 and others) there is widespread disagreement as to whether the
Danish welfare state is built on Lutheran ethics – in their adaptation
following N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783–1872), who stressed individual
Structural and Methodological Reflections 11
engagement and voluntarism – or it is the product of a social democratic
agenda that succeeded to the extent of its own obsoleteness – or it is a
combination of both normative and ideological sources. Whatever the case,
the very nature of the crisis of the 1920s and 1930s paved the way for the
social and economic empowerment instituted in the settlement of 1933.
Danish welfare became a matter for the state, and religious issues
disappeared once again from the political agenda.
A third attempt was made by a commission (strukturkommissionen) set
up in 1964 to establish the nature of the relationship between the state, the
people, and the Folkekirke. The Social Democrat Minister of Church
Affairs, Bodil Koch (1903-72), wanted to know how best to establish
church and religion as the ‘marrow and muscle of the people’.
Unfortunately, the work of the commission ceased with a change of
government and the death of the minister. The result was the reaffirmation
of Danish church law by permanent secretary August Roesen (1909-87) on
the argument that the Folkekirke had become a part of public
administration and in effect had no independent governance. All matters
pertaining to the Folkekirke would be regulated by Parliament and the
Minister of Church Affairs, while the 10 bishops would remain ‘inspectors’
of the Folkekirke and consultants to the Ministry (Roesen 1976; Huulgaard
2004, 29).
The two promised sets of legal norms that would ideally give autonomy
to the Folkekirke and equality of religion at least among other religious
communities (ideally speaking also in relation to the Folkekirke) never
came into being. The political and public debates always ended without
substantial change, the legislative agenda was never revived, and the
administrative handling of religious issues remained the law of the land.
Over time, the best of worlds envisioned by the constitution made way for
the dual reality of regulating religion in Denmark. Firstly, the sociological
reality that the actual number of “other religions” was insignificant, and
secondly, the closely related political reality that there were no problems to
mention, no dissidents, no media attention, and most importantly, no votes
to be gathered in a political engagement with religion, on the contrary.
From the time of the 1849 constitution until very recently, religion
functioned as a modus vivendi that declared Denmark to be Christian by
history and culture on the one hand, and secular in all legal, public, and
administrative matters on the other. This has now been not only challenged,
but is perhaps also being found to be a myth.
This presentation of the state of affairs of Danish regulation of religion
proposes in the following (1.2) a short introduction to the legal and
normative realities of contemporary Denmark, and continues with (1.3) a
brief description of the basic sociological realities. Under (1.4) the more
recent frame from 2001 to 2011 – from 11 September 2001 to the Arab
12 Structural and Methodological Reflections
spring – is presented as the actual frame of the RELIGARE survey. Lastly,
(1.5) there are a few comments on the change of government of October
2011 and how this seems to open up for new waves of discussion on the
roles of religion and secularity in Danish society and also more concretely
on the promises from the constitution.

Vilks will speak at a Anti-Muslim Conference

August 7, 2012

 

Lars Vilks* will speak at a conference in New York on September 11, 2012. The organizer is the anti-Muslim organization SION (Stop Islamization of Nations). Its founder says to have inspired Anders Behring Breivik.  A representative of SION was recently in Stockholm to hold his first speech at “the first global meeting against Jihad and radical Islamism.”

 

According to Anna-Sofia Quensel, a researcher at EXPO (an organization which regularly reports on activities of the far-right extremists), SION has its roots in Denmark going back to 2005. Since then there have been a European and an American branch, but since the beginning of 2012 an international umbrella organization has been formed (SION).

 

”The organization is a part of the counter-jihad movement. Its members claim that an intricate Islamizing conspiracy is underway against the West. Among other things, they claim that a holy war is being waged against the West and our ideas,” says Quensel. It is from this milieu that Breivik retrieved much of his opinions. Robert Spencer, who is one of the initiators of SION, has been quoted over 150 times in Breivik’s manifesto, according to Quensel.

 

Quensel also points out that from the SION’s point of view, Lars Vilks is an important person. “He is often mentioned because he has been threatened for his drawings and installations. He will speak about freedom of expression and he is used as an example of what can happen and how freedom of expression is threatened.” According to her Lars Vilks is a figurehead for SION, and his presence at the conference will also put focus on Sweden. “He comes as one of those who has received death threats and will be used as such. It sends a signal to the entire movement that Lars Vilks actually shares their views so that becomes a powerful signal to the outside.” Moreover, according to Quensel, there is a great risk that Lars Vilks legitimizes the movement, regardless of his personal motives (to participate).

 

”This is anti-Muslim environment and a movement which is active in attempts to prevent an Arabic TV-channel’s broadcasting from the US. In this environment he (Vilks) chooses to speak about freedom of expression. Now, which signals this sends is a matter of interpretation,” says Anna-Sofia Quensel.

 

When DN (Daily News) contacts Lars Vilks he says that he is attending the conference to speak about his experiences. “This is above all a part of my art project where I include Al Qaida and Al-Shabab. When this organization (SION) contacted me they became a part of my project. They play a large role in the big drama about Islam, Muslims and fundamentalism.”

 

What does it mean for you that the organizers have expressed anti-Muslim views?

 

“They can have any opinion thet want in the name of the freedom of expression.”  Cannot see that I play any significance in their situation. I want to have insight of the movement and how they think.”

 

EXPO (a racism watchdog organization) is of the opinion that your presence there contributes significantly to the anti-Muslim movement and that they will use this event to advertize (their views). What is your view on that?

 

”It is free to have any opinion you like, we should protect that.”

 

Do you think that other people can interpret (your presence at the conference) as you legitimizing them (the anti-Muslim movement)?

 

“Sure, we have freedom to interpret things differently. I have been exposed to various interpretations, so I’m used to it.”

 

Are you not concerned that you might add to the wrong interpretation of your (work), something that you usually mention?

 

“No, you have to shoulder that risk when you do art which touches upon suh a delicate issue. I will most likely create more enemies, but I’m used to it. People who do not want any nuances will view things in black and white.”

 

You have received much attention. Do you see all of this as a PR-stunt?

 

”No I can’t say i do. I have already received much attention even before,” yas Lars Vilks.

 

Signed: Fredrik Lennander

 

 

* Lars Vilks is a Swedish artist. He is best known for his defamatory portrayal (street installation) of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Vilks has characterized his own skill in the actual crafts involved in sculpture as quite limited, and although his artistic ideas can be seen as characteristic for his generation of Swedish conceptual artists, he has remained something of an outsider in the Swedish art scene for most of his career.

Nordic Daylight makes Muslims Indecisive

July 17, 2012

 

The Muslim month of fasting – Ramadan starts on Friday, July 20. However the short Swedish nights makes faithful Muslims concerned. When can a person break their fast?

”It is a big issue,” says Mohamed Amri, the Luleå Imam (in the far north of Sweden) Imam. According to the tradition the fast should last from dawn to sunset. For Muslims in Luleå, that means abstaining from food and water up to 21 hours.

“It is clear that is far too long,” says Amri.

Swedish Defense League (SDL): “Majority of young Muslims in Europe do not want democracy”

August 1, 2012

 

On Saturday several Islamophobic organizations from all around the world gather on Norra Bantorget (a square in downtown Stockholm). English Defense League participate among other groups. They plan to gather in order to protest what they view as increased Islamization of Europe. These organizations choose to gather in Sweden primarily due to the failed terrorist attack in Stockholm in December 2010, this according to one of the organizers and the SDL’s spokesperson Isak Nygren.

 

“We want to show that we are not alone in our resistance to Islam. We want to show that we are many, and the more numerous we are the better it is (for our cause). We want to protect the democratic and open society, which Islam is against. There are no Muslim democracies,” says Isak Nygren.

 

‘Isn’t Kosovo democratic?’

 

Nygren answers, “I have never heard that they held any elections in Kosovo.” (NOTE: Kosovo has held four parliamentary elections since 1991, in the latest election, Social Democrats won – PDK).

 

‘What about the recent elections in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya?’

 

“The elections have been arranged by the West, soon they will abolish voting and elections, just what they did on the Gaza strip in 2006.”

 

‘Don’t you think that young people in the Arab world want democracy?’

 

”No, it is the same in Europe, majority of the young Muslims in Europe do not want democracy.”

 

‘What evidences support your claims that Muslims do not want democracy?’

”If you consider that the Islamist movement has grown since the 1980s, that is reflected in that many Muslim states has receded in development. The most obvious example is Afghanistan.”

 

‘Wasn’t it the desire for democracy that fueled the Arab Spring?’

 

“It had nothing to do with democracy. They (the people) were fed up with the secular state power. Majority of the Egyptians do not want democracy, (if so) they wouldn’t have voted for the (Muslim) Brotherhood.”

 

‘So, a regular Muslim does not want democracy?’

 

“Well they allow themselves to be ruled by certain groups which are against democracy. The silent majority allows the loud majority to rule.”

 

‘What are the signs that Sweden is being Islamized?’

 

“Couple years ago, a first Sharia court was formed in Malmö. And we are witnessing increase in building of Islamic centres. Also, there is gender apartheid in pool houses where they are closed for access to the public except for the Muslim women who also pull the drapes over the windows.”

 

‘But the so called Sharia court in Malmö has only counseling rights no judicial function.’

 

“Not according to the Swedish law, but it is how everything starts. First we have family jurisprudence than it develops.”

 

‘What is the problem (more specifically)?’

 

”These are small steps and in the long run these (steps) can lead to decreased rights of expression. If you criticize Islam you are automatically called an Islamophob and all other kinds of names.”

 

‘But isn’t the demonstration this Saturday a sign of freedom of expression?’

 

“There is still some freedom (allowed), but the media will lie about us.”