Sweden Democrats Lash Out Against Islam
With their party conference just barely over, the ultra right wing Sweden Democrats are creating headlines in Sweden again.
In an article in Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet Jimmie Åkesson, party leader, writes that Islam is the greatest threat against Sweden since WWII.
According to Åkesson “today’s multicultural Swedish power elite is completely blind to the dangers of Islam”. He goes on to say that there are 10 Muslim terror organisations established in Sweden today, that Sweden has the highest number of rapes in Europe and that Muslim men are highly represented among the offenders. He concluded his article by saying that if the party is elected into parliament in 2010, he will do everything in his powers to “change the trend”.
Åkesson wrote the article, which was published on Monday, in answer to the request by Aftonbladet’s editor-in-chief Jan Helin during a TV-debate, that the Sweden Democrats once and for all explained their views on immigration. The article has caused a strong reaction and legal experts say that it is bordering on persecution against an ethnic group. Per Hultengård, lawyer for the Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association, told Aftonbladet that the article can be read as a warning to Swedish Muslims, not in the least due to Åkesson’s promise at the end.
“I would take that as a threat,” said Per Hultengård to Aftonbladet.
According to Jan Hjärpe, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Lund, the rhetoric used by Åkesson has clear racist undertones, as it is based on the assumption that religion is decisive for how people act.
“This is the same kind of propaganda that was used by Nazi anti-Semites,” Hjärpe told Aftonbladet.
His views are shared by the head of the Swedish Muslim Council, Mostofa Kharraki.
“This can’t be interpreted as anything but racism,” he said to Aftonbladet.
According to the Chancellor of Justice in Sweden, Göran Lambertz, Åkesson’s article is not a clear case of persecution against an ethnic group. This, despite the lack of scientific basis to Åkesson’s statement regarding Muslim men being highly represented among rapists. Lambertz is anticipating receiving complaints about the article and will look closer into them as they come in, he told Swedish News agency TT.
Aftonbladet’s Jan Helin decided to print the article against the advice of legal experts. If the Chancellor of Justice would decide that the article was a case of persecution against an ethnic group, it is Helin who is legally responsible for the publication and would be prosecuted for the offense.
“I have decided to take that risk. Åkesson’s text is important because it shows clearly on what values a party, on its way into Parliament, rests on. You may think that he is right or wrong in his views. But through reading this article you get a chance to consider what the Sweden Democrats actually believe,” Helin writes in Aftonbladet today.
In the latest opinion polls the Sweden Democrats received 4.7% of votes. This means that if elections were held today the party would get in to Parliament.
At an informal press conference at the Gothenburg University, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said that Åkesson's article reflects what it really is that the Sweden Democrats want to achieve.
" This is the core of this party's ideas. They may have spent a whole weekend trying to make it look as if they have svereal different areas of interest. They don't. They have one area of interest and that is to create an 'us-and-them' scenario," said Reinfeldt.
The Prime Minister also made clear that he would not consider leading a government in power with the support of the Sweden Democrats.