Stockholm bishop Eva Brunne (l) and Sweden Democrats leader, Jimmie Åkesson (r) met for a conversation at the Engelbrecht church in Stockholm on Monday night. Photo: SÖREN ANDERSSON / Scanpix
politics & religion

Bishop and politician go head-to-head

4:07 min

Leader of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party, Jimmie Åkesson, met with the bishop of the Swedish Church's Stockholm diocese, Eva Brunne, on Monday night at a church in Stockholm for a conversation about their views on humankind.

The discussion came after Åkesson and his fellow party members walked out of an earlier sermon in which Brunne advocated for equal treatment of all human beings. That sermon had figured into Parliament's opening ceremonies in October.

During Monday's conversation, Brunne pointed out that Jesus Christ was very political and that he tried to erase boundaries that separated communities. She said that she believes that being Christian according to the church's aims is therefore political. "I am proud to be a part of it," she said, reported news agency TT.

For his part, Åkesson said that different political parties prioritize different community groups, and that these distinctions are inherent to the way parties define themselves against each other. He also said that his party turns away from immigrants who don't want to be "us" and isolate themselves from the Swedish community. "I think that's unfortunate, and it's that which our policies work to oppose," he said.

One member of the public said that Islam is an undemocratic religion and challenged Brunne to answer which part of Sharia law she would like to have in Sweden, since she had said that it's good for immigrants to take their traditions with them to Sweden.

"The Muslims I meet with don't operate under Sharia law and don't want to implement it," said Brunne.

When Åkesson clarified the question, Brunne said that the question was difficult to answer, since no one in the room had enough knowledge about Islam to say. She also pointed out that the Christian Crusades also led to atrocities.

Maciej Zaremba, a journalist from newspaper Dagens Nyheter who also took part in the conversation, pointed out that many Muslim immigrants in Sweden fled from exactly that strict interpretation of Islam. He said that it would be "totally absurd" to imply that they wanted to institute Sharia law here.

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