by (Supervised by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany)

        With immigrants afraid to send their children to schools to avoid verbal and physical abuses, Swedish Muslims are criticizing their government for failing to stop discrimination against the religious minority.

        “Forserum really showed what proportions Islamophobia as well as Afrophobia can take when an entire town looks on as people have their human rights violated,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, the editor of a recent report on anti-Muslim discrimination, told The Local newspaper.

        Forserum, in south-central Sweden, has seen several attacks on Somali immigrants in the city. The attacks have left many Somalis fearful of sending their children to school to avoid further abuses.

       A report, by the Network of Swedish Muslims, called on the government to order an investigation into how local authorities failed to help Somali migrants.

“Not everyone partook in the abuse, but many silently witnessed it and the authorities were passive,” Sabuni said.

      The report, which came to light in cooperation between several associations, was submitted to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

       It warned that Sweden was failing to tackle discrimination against Muslims, citing prejudices facing ethnic Swedes who convert to Islam, especially from their families.


Threats and Violence


       “We’re talking not only about excommunication, but also threats and violence that many converts tell us about,” Sabuni said.   

       For instance, one father, based in the US, reported his daughter who reverted to Islam to the FBI, which led to her being questioned by the Swedish intelligence service Sapo.

       The report also highlighted the housing segregation facing Muslims in Sweden.

       It suggested that the problem could in part be solved by allowing Islamic banking, which forbids interest rates, which could unlock flat and house ownership for many Swedish Muslims.

      The report asked the government to give funds to Muslim congregations to secure their safe operations, citing statistics that showed Muslims receive less funding through community associations than other groups.


Race Law

       The report also accused Swedish security agencies of targeting Muslims by their anti-terror laws.  

      “As it is only Muslims who are detained on these flimsy grounds, the question of whether the terror law is a ‘race law’ must be asked,” said the report.

It also proposed the formation of a “Truth Commission” that would have the power to look into specific cases.

       The report cited that out of 26 known arrests by anti-terror laws, Muslims were targeted in all cases. Only two people were subsequently charged.                                    

        The report also complained from media coverage of Swedish Muslims.

Sabuni cited a debate program on Sverges Television (SVT) on repression of women among Muslims.

      “What kind of headline is that? And it’s on public service television,” he said.

       “As though women’s lack of access to education and not being able to support themselves wasn’t a problem in Sweden and other western European countries only 50 years ago, and that economic and social development weren’t the keys, rather than religion, to their emancipation.”

      The report called for fostering a more diverse recruitment for journalists working for the public broadcasting, suggesting that SVT remove the discriminatory ban on newscasters wearing headscarves.

      Hostility against Muslims in Sweden has been on the rise in recent years.

In August, far-right groups held an international meeting in Sweden to condemn what they say “Islamization” of Europe. 

      Earlier last year, the neo-Nazi Swedish Resistance Movement organized a march in the central Swedish town of Bollnäs to denounce Islam.

      Muslims make up between 450,000 and 500,000 of Sweden’s nine million people, according to the US State Department report in 2011. (T/SHS/E1)

 Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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