In various parts of the Muslim world, sentiment is being expressed against Sweden. An Egyptian university calls for a boycott of Swedish products. A Turkish hacker group threatens to release Swedish information to the public if the Koran is still desecrated in Sweden.
Among other things, such reactions were caused in the Muslim world by a far-right politician Rasmus Paludan, when he burned the Koran in Stockholm the other Saturday. The Turkish president was at the forefront of the protest march Recep Tayyip Erdoğanwhich gave yet another reason to delay the ratification of Sweden’s – and with it Finland’s – NATO membership.
It doesn’t help that official Sweden has no part in the Swedish-Danish Paludan’s capture. For example, al-Azhar University, a center of Sunni Muslim learning, says that a boycott would be an appropriate response for Sweden, which “protects a barbaric crime under the inhuman and immoral banner of what it calls freedom of expression”. Swedish television tells. (you switch to another service)
So the views of Western countries and the Islamic world on freedom of speech and respect for religion are again on a collision course, as happened for example in 2006, when a Danish magazine published caricatures of the prophet of Muhammad.
We asked the professor of Arabic language and Islamic studies Jaakko from Hämeen-Anttilawhat the Muslim anger can lead to this time, and what harm it will cause to Sweden – in addition to the fact that the dispute with Turkey over NATO membership will become even more complicated.
“Individual acts of violence possible”
Professor Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila from the University of Edinburgh tells by phone that in the Muslim world, Kohuts have at least previously been short-lived.
He believes that Sweden’s reputation is not permanently bad.
– Sure, Sweden’s reputation may suffer, but I believe that the situation will calm down soon in the Islamic world. There will be no lasting damage to reputation as long as there are no similar uproarous expressions of opinion in Sweden.
Hämeen-Anttila reminds that Kohuts come and go quickly. For example, Denmark had a bad reputation at one point, but it quickly passed.
According to him, with the uproar, Swedes themselves have to think twice before booking their holiday trip to Muslim countries.
– I don’t think that Muslim anger will lead to anything other than demonstrations and a boycott of Swedish products in the Middle East, maybe even longer. A single act of violence may be possible against a Swedish entity.
According to Hämeen-Anttila, the situation in Finland will remain stable as long as Korans are not burned.
– This cannot expand to affect Finland other than in terms of the NATO project. If in Finland we started burning Korans and attacked Muslims in other ways, that would of course arouse objections, Hämeen-Anttila thinks.
“Inciting hatred between religions”
Demonstrations against Sweden have been organized in Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, among others.
“Death to the Swedish government,” chanted protesters in Khost, Afghanistan. “Only evil burned the Koran,” read a protester’s sign in Jakarta, Indonesia. Swedish flags have flown in the demonstrations and demonstrators have held Korans in their hands.
Many Muslim countries have condemned the burning of the Koran. Among others, Turkey, Afghanistan and Indonesia have summoned the Swedish ambassador to present their objection.
For example, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the act hurts the feelings of more than a billion Muslims and can incite anger and hatred between religions and nations.
According to Iran, some European countries allow “the promotion of freedom of speech as an excuse, using extremist material to spread hatred against the sacred values of Islam.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation OIC says the burning of the Koran is yet another example of the spread of Islamophobia. The organization demands that Sweden punish those behind the “hate crime”.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ulf Kristersson has called the burning of the holy book a very disrespectful act, and said his sympathies are with the Muslims who were offended by the act.
However, in his tweet, Kristersson emphasizes that freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy.
What is legal is not necessarily appropriate, the Prime Minister tweeted.
Sweden has been slandered before
It is not the first time that Sweden has been the target of a hate campaign aimed at the Muslim public. More than a year ago, fake news started spreading on Arabic-language social media accounts, according to which the Swedish social authorities “kidnap” especially Muslim children.
According to the Swedish authorities, the fake news was initially spread by accounts with links to violent Islamist groups.
Among other things Sweden’s TV4 reported (you switch to another service)recently that the campaign is still going on.
Interviewed by Swedish television SVT (you go to another service) according to the family lawyer, the campaign has led to some parents considering moving from Sweden because they are afraid of taking custody of their children.
A dent in the demand for trips to Turkey
The Swedish Security Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said that they are monitoring the situation and the impact of the protests on Sweden.
–² Some foreign parties are trying to convey an image of Sweden as a country that is critical of Islam and a legitimate target for terrorism, says the spiritual national defense authority MPF. According to it, the number of hateful messages has increased.
However, Säpo, at least for the time being, sees no reason to raise the terrorist threat level, which is now three on a five-point scale.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says For Aftonbladet magazine, (you will switch to another service) that it does not comment on the threat picture. However, it is clear that jupaka has a negative effect on the development of Sweden’s international relations, especially with regard to Muslim countries, the ministry says.
Sweden has already urged its citizens to avoid demonstrations and other public gatherings in Turkey. After the call, the demand for trips to Turkey has decreased, SVT’s interviewees say (you switch to another service) travel agencies. For example, at the Solresan travel agency, demand has dropped by up to 60 percent.
If the turmoil around Sweden continues, it may also be reflected in the sports world. Swedish Athletics Federation says to Aftonbladet, (you switch to another service) that it does not rule out the possibility of being left out of the EC Indoor Championships in athletics if the security situation requires it.
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