It doesn’t surprise, that in spite of its antagonistic policies towards Israel, the Swedish Foreign Ministry hasn’t been able to shield its society from the presence of Islamist Extremism.
Appeasement in the face of an aggressive enemy,(as during the pre-WWII period) will always be taken for a sign of weakness, as the jihadi group, Ansar al-Sunnah’s training video shows. Its eerily reminiscent of the suicide bomber’s ‘help giude’ video, in which viewers are instructed on how to both, construct a suicide belt and to properly maximize its effects.
According to a Washington Times article, Sept,2003 : “Arab and Muslim attacks on Jews are rising sharply in Swedish society [while] silence surrounds Muslim Jew-hatred. The situation has become so bad, they report, that “Jews in Sweden today often feel compelled to hide their religious identity in public. If anti-Semitism among Arabs and Muslims in Sweden is discussed at all in Swedish media, it tends to be in the form of trivializations or denials of the problem.”
The son of a friend has been repeatedly attacked by Muslim thugs, due to his choice of wanting to wear the Star of David around his neck. Only once did a bystander come to his aid. The Swedish governmental approach to the problem in their midst, has been ‘ostrich like’, which makes it problemlematic not only for Sweden, but for the region as well.
Finland, which also has a Muslim minority, has not been entirely immune to Islamist hedgemony either. According to the Helsingin Sanomat, (Finland’s largest city daily news paper) the relative of Cultural relations consultant British Bangladeshi imam, Ajmal Masroor, claimed that his cousin was being discriminated against, because, he was being treated exactly the same way as all the other men :
…”My relative lived in Finland, and had to go to the army there. He interrupted his service because of discrimination. He was made to take showers in the same room with other men, he did not get halal meat, and he did not get chances to pray as much as he wanted.” He goes on to note that in Britain, the government would have taken care of his needs….”
Also worth noting, is Finland’s Swedish speaking minority. Compared to the Finnish speaking media, its virtually hostile towards Israel. The current Finnish Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, (and close friend of Swedish FM, Laila Freivalds), has made repeated attempts to direct a tougher Finnish stance towards Israel. The latest being a tirade directed against Ariel Sharon, in the Finnish news magazine Suomen Kuvalehti June 3, 2005. Its seems that the old saying ”birds of a feather”, has proven to be all too true. To its credit, the Finnish govenment has tried to intergrate its Muslim population through the observance of its holidays, but its premature to tell what kind of an effect that has had on the Finnish Muslim society as a whole.
There are currently only 20,000 Muslims in Finland, which makes up just one percent of its total population, the Jewish figure is much smaller with a population around 1500. Most Muslims are immigrants from various Middle Eastern countries, along with some ethnic Tatars who had immigrated to the country since the last 200 years. Most interestingly are the Tartar Muslims, who are an established minority in Finland, and are quite secular and do not greatly differ from the majority population.
This stabilizing factor alone, could prove to be benificial in helping to ward off any drift by the Muslim community into extremism. But the danger of an Islamist import from Sweden to Finland still exists, as long as Sweden continues to pretend that, ‘all is well under the northern star’.