In a radio debate between Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (moderate) and leader of the opposition Mona Sahlin (social democrat), Reinfeldt refused to give a straight answer on the possibility of banning of burqas in Sweden. “We don’t need to hide our faces in this way in Sweden”, Reinfeldt said. Sahlin said she was against a law, and that she is willing to fight for a woman’s right to wear a burqa if she wants. When asked again later, Reinfeldt said he doesn’t support a burqa or niqab ban, and that he had been hesitant earlier our of respect for President Sarkozy.
According to Svenska Dagbladet (Independently moderate) none of the parties in parliament officially supports a ban on burqas and niqabs. But individuals in the ruling coalition say they would like to a ban. “It’s un-hygenical and disgusting”, says Annelie Enochsson of the Christian Democratic Party.
According to a census made by Expressen (independently liberal) and the Swedish research consultancy Demoskop, 53 percent of the Swedish population wants a law against wearing burqa and niqab in public, while 46 percent is said to be against a prohibition.
Extreme Islamist organizations are becoming more visible in big city suburbs and are presenting a challenge to the Swedish State of Law, Svenska Dagbladet reports.
Local resistance against Islamists is growing as well: Swedish Somalis demonstrated against al-Shabab in the suburb of Rinkeby outside of Stockholm in December 2009.
In Dagens Nyheter (independent) journalist and writer Dilsa Demirbag-Sten claims Swedish media is promoting stereotypical representations of Muslims, and confusing Muslims and Islam. Islam gets to be represented by what she says to be “Islamist” images, because “secular, cultural and atheist Muslims don’t show enough an interest in religion”. By letting Islamists represent Islam – Swedish politicians and media help empower non-democratic forces within society – Demirbag-Sten claims.
The same day Svenska Dagbladet (independent moderate/conservative) published a feature on Muslim diversity in Sweden. Ten Muslims of different denominations (Sufi, feminist-atheist, convert, secular, traditionalist, etc.) talk about their relations to Islam.
Svenska Dagbladet acknowledged the problem, and states that Muslim diversity needs better representation in the daily news.
The Swedish government is to set up an inquiry to look into the possibility of using state funds to help provide training for imams. According to Lars Leijonborg, the Minister for Higher Education and Research, Muslim representatives should be able to benefit from Swedish tax kronor in the same way that Christian priests and ministers do. Former Liberal Party leader Svenska Dagbladet also believes that the move will help curb the development of radical Islam by providing alternatives to Wahhabi and Saudi Arabia training of imams.