Swedish Church Hires Imam

18 March 2011
The Swedish Church has hired an Imam – Othman Al-Tawalbeh – to work with interreligious dialogue. The decision has been debated during the last week, especially amongst members of the church, but also in Muslim communities. While some are positive towards the collaboration, some Muslims have criticized as well the church as Al-Tawalbeh. The most critical voice comes from another Swedish Imam, Mahmoud Aldebe, who commented on the issue in Arabic media earlier this week. Tawalbeh felt Aldebe’s critique was formulated in such a way that it could create a threatening situation for him, and there has been rumors of Aldebe trying to get a fatwa against Tawalbeh from Jordan, his country of origin. Swedish Secret Police has been talking to Tawalbeh and is investigating whether or not there is a threat against him.
Othman Al-Tawalbeh is fairly well known in Sweden. He has been working in different dialogue projects for years. Also Aldebe is well known to the Swedish public, especially for his 2006 letter to the Swedish government asking for adaptations of the Swedish law in issues concerning the Muslim minorities.

Sweden: Muslim group: “Make halal slaughter legal”

The Muslim Association of Sweden (SMF) is renewing calls for the legalization of religious slaughter practices, such as halal and kosher dietary requirements. SMF chairperson Mahmoud Aldebe is challenging the government to respect the democratic rights of Sweden’s Muslims, to exercise their “religious freedoms” and help find a way to permit the practice.

At stake is the key issue of pain killers administered to the animal; the agriculture ministry requires that an electric shock be made to an animal before a cut is made. This method is prohibited by most Muslim and Jewish slaughter practices, as the risk of the animal dying before the cut is made is high.

The ban on slaughtering animals by cutting the jugular vein has been in force since 1937 in Sweden.