Swedish Muslims have no intention of internationalizing a new crisis involving an offensive drawing of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). STOCKHOLM – Swedish Muslims have no intention of internationalizing a new crisis involving an offensive drawing of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), opting for a series of peaceful protests at home. “Swedish Muslims don’t want to escalate the situation,” Mohamed Al-Khalafi, the head of the Muslim Association of Sweden, told IslamOnline.
The oppression of women and girls in the name of family honor has become an urgent problem in Sweden with the arrival of growing numbers of immigrants over the past few years, the country’s integration minister said Tuesday. Nyamko Sabuni, herself a Congolese immigrant and Sweden’s first black minister, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Swedes should not accept traditions that clash with the Scandinavian nation’s fundamental values, including equality between the sexes. Sabuni has angered many Muslims in the past by calling for a ban on headscarves for teenage girls in Sweden. “Honor-related violence is an urgent gender equality issue,” said Sabuni, 37. “Everyone who works with it – the police, social services and women’s shelters – say that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It’s a big problem.” Many European countries have reported so-called honor crimes, in which women are punished or even killed by relatives for committing adultery or violating other sexual mores. But Sabuni, who took office with the center-right government in October, said the problem was much bigger than the handful of murders that have gained major media attention in Sweden in recent years. “I know there are girls who cannot choose with whom to marry. I know there are girls whose genitals are mutilated. I know there are girls whose virginity is checked before they marry,” Sabuni said. “For me it’s unacceptable that these phenomena exist in a democratic country.” About 12 percent of Sweden’s 9 million residents are foreign-born, and the proportion is growing. Last year, Sweden received about 80,000 immigrants – the highest number ever – led by an influx of Iraqi refugees. Many Muslims in Sweden have lashed out at Sabuni, saying they feel unfairly targeted by her campaign against honor crimes. They say such traditions date back hundreds of years in some Middle Eastern and African countries and have nothing to do with Islam. Sabuni, who was raised in a Muslim family but considers herself an agnostic, said: “I’m not that interested in what Islam stipulates. I am very interested in saying that some traditions, some practices are completely unacceptable and illegal.” Sabuni has also angered Muslims by calling for withdrawing state support to religious schools and a ban on headscarves for girls under 15, although those proposals have not won support in the four-party government. “Everything suggests this tradition is emerging here in Sweden, it’s not something you bring from your former home country,” Sabuni said about the Islamic headscarf. “And that brings the question: What is happening in our society that makes parents put headscarves on their children?” Unlike in France, there are no laws against wearing religious symbols in schools in Sweden. Sabuni said Sweden would be able to absorb the growing tide of refugees, but added that discrimination and self-imposed seclusion by some immigrants were hampering integration. “We have a generation today that does not really feel Swedish. Many with an African background, like myself, are not addressed as Afro-Swedes, but as Congolese or Somalis or something else,” she said. “In that respect I feel that we have failed.”
On the 23rd of January the Swedish Ministry of Education said that the Islamic veil would be permitted in Swedish schools. This decision confrims the one made in the spring of 2006 with regards to the Minerva Free School, in northern Sweden. In the winter of 05-06, a 7 year old student who was not allowed to wear the veil was pulled from school by her parents. The internal regualtions of the Free School forbade hats or head coverings – and in the same spirit, the veil. This regualtion was contested by the parents of the young girl. “It is a question of discipine, not of religion,” explained Lars Isacsson, head of the Minerva School. “But it has become quite a sensitive issue because of this debate over Muslims and the veil.” According to the Swedish constitution, the veil cannot be prohibited at schools because the freedom of religion is guaranteed. By contrast, since 2003 the burqa can be forbidden in Swedish schools for reasons of pedagogy or safety, for example in a chemistry class.
Germany’s opposition Green party said female police officers should be allowed to wear the Islamic headscarf, citing England and Sweden as examples of religious tolerance towards their public sector workers.
Sorbonne: Salle Louis Liard 17 rue de la Sorbonne, 75005 Paris
European Muslims and the Secular State in a Comparative Perspective
NOCRIME CONFERENCE – Organized with the Sponsorship of the European Commission (DG Research)
MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2003
I. Modes of Interaction in Non-Muslim Societies
President Patrick Michel CNRS/CERI, EHESS, France
Discussant: Tuula Sakaranaho University of Helsinki, Finland
II. Muslim Leadership and Institutional Constraints in Europe
President Jean-Paul Willaime EPHE, Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE), France
Discussant: Martin Van Bruinessen ISIM, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2003
III. Religious Authorities in the Global Era: Ethnicity and Diasporas
President Sami Zemni University of Ghent, Belgium
Discussant: Jonathan Friedman EHESS, France
IV. Islam and European Urban Life
President: Tariq Ramadan University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Discussant: Jose Casanova New School University, USA