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Swedish Muslims Want Separate Laws
From the desk of Filip van Laenen on Sat, 2006-04-29 10:54
The Swedish Muslim Association, Sveriges muslimska förbund (SMuF), the largest Muslim organisation in Sweden, has written a letter to all the parties in the Swedish parliament to demand that separate legislation be introduced for Muslims. SmuF has 70,000 members and claims to represent the 470,000 Muslim immigrants living in the country. Sweden has a total population of 9 million. One in every 19 people in Sweden is a Muslim. It is the fastest growing segment of the population.
SmuF’s proposal includes demands that divorces between Muslims should be approved by an imam, that imams be allowed to give Muslim children who attend public schools separate lessons in Islam and in their native languages, and that boys and girls should have separate swimming and gym lessons.
Sweden is holding general elections this Autumn. As in other European countries, the Muslim vote may be the decisive element in the elections by tipping the balance. This probably explains why this week the Swedish Socialist government refused to participate in an international military exercise “because of Israel’s participation.”
Jens Orback, the Swedish minister for Integration and Equality, however, categorically rejected the Muslim demands for separate laws. “In Sweden we are all equal before the law. In Sweden we have fought for a long time to achieve gender-neutral laws, and to propose that certain groups should not be treated like others is completely unacceptable,” he said. “I think it is very problematic and unfortunate that people who have been in Sweden for so long are making proposals like these, that are so opposed to our intentions, when we are fighting for women’s rights and the right to divorce.”
Though most Swedish politicians agreed with the minister, there is a notable exception. Ebtisam Aldebe, a female candidate of the Centerpartiet, the Centre Party, supports SmuF’s proposal. She says that men should be entitled to inherit more than women, because this is what the Quran says.
The Centre Party belongs to the Allians för Sverige, a coalition of four center-right parties that hope to oust the Social-Democrats from power next Autumn. The Folkpartiet, the Liberal People’s Party, another of the four alliance parties, however, adopts an entirely different position. It rejects SmuF’s demands and moreover wants the Muslim organisation to be deprived of its state subsidies. SmuF received 11 million Swedish kroner (1.2 million euro) during the past years. The People’s Party wonders why the Swedish taxpayers should finance an organisation that rejects Swedish society to such a degree that they want to have their own laws.