Muslims urged to reject "western democracy"

2:06 min

While mainstream religious leaders are trying to get the vote out, a tiny group is handing out leaflets urging Muslims in Sweden not to vote.

A mainstream religious leader says to Radio Sweden they have been using the major Friday prayers events in their mosque to talk about how important it is to vote. Ibrahim Bouraleh says it's even a responsibility to vote.

But a notorious reactionary group is putting out leaflets with a different message, saying it is a Muslim duty to not participate in western democracy.

This is the international Hizb ut Tahrir group, which advocates a religious state where women and non-Muslims would be banned from holding power.

It says participating in elections means accepting values it hates, such as secularism and equality.

Reacting to the leaflets Ibrahim Bouraleh says to Radio Sweden that his area of Stockholm has bigger problems to deal with.

"It's also a part of democracy, whether you vote at all. But this is a small group. They're not loud, don't represent any mosque or any big tendency. And I don't think that it is they who are the ones stopping so many from voting. It's a question of participation and democracy, really.

In suburbs like Rinkeby with high unemployment and social segregation voter turnout is often around half, far below the national norm of over 80 per cent.

Journalist Per Gudmundson at conservative paper Svenska Dagbladet says there are around a hundred members of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir group in Sweden. He says they are unlikely to get support for their policies, but can yet have a negative effect.

Speaking to Radio Sweden he says it can be a bad thing for most other muslims, that people get a bad picture of muslims in general, if people don't realise that Hizb ut Tahrir is a tiny little sect that doesn't have anything to do with ordinary people.

Radio Sweden has tried to get in contact with Hizb ut Tahrir itself, who referred us to their office in Denmark.