It should not be a mystery whether Islam is compatible with democracy or not. All you have to do is look at the Islamic sources or call any imam and pretend to be impressed that Islam does not separate religion and politics.
Yet, when Gatestone Institute called Swedish politicians at all levels to ask if Islam and democracy were compatible, they gave assurances that there were no problems whatsoever with Islam's capacity for democracy -- or they hung up.
The two most common answers given were:
- Islam is definitely compatible with democracy!
- I cannot discuss this matter right now.
The question cuts through all parties; apparently no one dares to face the facts. So far, throughout history, and now in the world's 57 Muslim countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), nowhere has Islam been compatible with democracy, freedom of speech, human rights and legal certainty. These Muslim states have not signed the UN's Declaration of Human Rights, a document Swedish politicians seem to cherish. Instead, those countries have joined the Cairo Declaration, which stipulates that sharia is the only foundation for human rights. In short, human rights are all well and good so long as they do not conflict with sharia -- if they do, sharia wins. In practice, this means that in the Islamic world, there are, in the Western sense, no human rights.
Then why do Swedish politicians believe they will be able to democratize Islam? Do they know something the rest of the world does not? Or, as the alternative is so terrifying, are they just pretending?
In 1985, Sweden was still a homogenous country. There was no doubt that Sweden belonged to the Swedes. We were proud of the country that our forefathers created, and the welfare state given to us by the Social Democrats. Women in veils and men in Middle Eastern clothes did not walk the streets, and Islam was still considered exotic. It was, as the analyst Ronie Berggren recently put it, "Arabian nights, or [the children's book] Tam Sventon with his manservant, Mr. Omar, and the flying carpet. Olof Palme was still alive and Sweden thought itself a safe and functioning nation."
But in 1985, the Swedish History Museum published an anthology, "Islam: religion, culture, society," in which a diplomat, Dag Sebastian Ahlander, expressed concerns:
"Islamic immigration to Sweden can also lead to new conflicts within Swedish society. The Swedish perception is that there is freedom of religion in Sweden, but that perception is built on a private view of religion. To a Muslim, a large part of the rules regarding everyday activities is based on Islam; co-education of boys and girls, sex education, the view on the status of women, the demand that the slaughter of animals should be performed according to certain rituals, the demand that Friday should be a public holiday -- all of these things are potential sources of conflict to Muslim immigrants in Swedish society, and they are all ultimately founded on religion."
Sadly, the anthology fell into oblivion. All at once, while the Swedes were busy tending their gardens or repainting their summer houses, and feeling safe in the knowledge that our politicians surely were not lying to us, Islam was everywhere. The problems sketched out by Dag Sebastian Ahlander are now affecting all of us -- but still the politicians refuse to address the most basic question.
In calls to politicians, Gatestone also encountered an incantation: Islam is democratic because it has to be democratic, because what will happen to Sweden otherwise?
Many politicians are, evidently, frightened to death to talk about Islam. They seem to do everything in their power to avoid giving an answer. They claim they are the wrong person to talk to; they hang up the phone -- anything to skirt a discussion.
The reason may well be that no matter what they say, everyone knows what happens to anyone who criticizes Islam -- first, you get labeled an "Islamophobe racist," then, like the artist Lars Vilks, you might get a fatwa of death on your head.
Not one of the politicians or officials was able to name a single Muslim-majority country that has a decent democracy with legal certainty and freedom of speech. Not one could see any danger coming from an increasing Islamization of Sweden. Typical answers were:
"Yes, Islam is definitely compatible with democracy. At least, that is my interpretation." — Beatrice Ask, Conservative (Moderaterna), former Minister of Justice.
"Of course if you read the words in the Quran, and the movements and schools that are leading around the world, then Islam is difficult to merge with the Swedish version of democracy. But I try to avoid talking categorically about Islam as a whole. Many people have Islam as their personal faith." — Paula Bieler, Sweden Democrats.
"I have nothing against that. People can believe what they want in a democracy." — Nooshi Dadgostar, Left Party (Vänsterpartiet).
"Islam as a religion is compatible with democracy, why wouldn't it be? I don't think there is any religion not compatible with democracy. As long as you don't use religion to hurt each other, Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all democratic in their basic perspective." — Jamal Mouneimne, Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna).
"[Mehmet] Kaplan is a practicing Muslim in a democratically elected government, so of course both he and I believe Islam is compatible with democracy. He is also an anti-racist, a feminist and he stands up for human rights." — Mikaela Kotschack, Green Party (Miljöpartiet), Press Secretary for the recently resigned Mehmet Kaplan.
"I cannot answer that I'm afraid. This calls for a longer discussion, you cannot just answer yes or no to that question. ... No, the question does not make me nervous, but it demands knowledge and a longer discussion." — Larry Söder, Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna).
The civil servants, who are supposed to give the politicians more insight into current political issues, seem no more knowledgeable than the politicians. Deputy Assistant Göran Ternbo, the Government Offices' expert on democracy and human rights, was also asked if Islam is compatible with democracy:
"Eh, ah ... that's a controversial issue, it is. I don't know. You cannot be that categorical answering one way or the other. Why are you asking these questions? It feels ... where are you going with this?"
Gatestone: We just want to know what the government's view on Islam is. Are you aware of the Islamic agenda?
Ternbo: "We have freedom of religion in Sweden."
Gatestone: Can you say that Islam fits into democratic Sweden?
Ternbo: "Yes, if they follow our laws."
Gatestone: But many say they want sharia?
Ternbo: "I have never heard that."
Gatestone: Can you mention one democratic Muslim country?
Ternbo: "I do not understand where this is going. If you want to discuss Islam, I advise you to contact the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, they have experts on Islam."
Gatestone: But the politicians are filling the country with Islam right now, how does that affect Sweden's future?
Ternbo: "My job is to deal with completely different issues, so I cannot answer that. Right now, I'm working on the Nordic Sami Convention."
Gatestone: You work with human rights, have the Muslim countries accepted the UN Declaration on Human Rights?
Ternbo: "Yes, they've accepted a number of declarations, including the Cairo Declaration."
Gatestone: Does the Cairo Declaration view human rights the same way we do?
Ternbo: "I don't want to continue this discussion, it feels like an interrogation. We have freedom of religion in Sweden."
Gatestone: Is it possible to use Swedish democracy to abolish democracy?
Ternbo: "This is going too far. I have a meeting now. Goodbye."
The Swedes are highly secularized. They have never asked to be invaded by fierce religious rules. However, the huge immigration of asylum seekers, mainly from Muslim-majority countries, has turned everything the Swedes take for granted upside down -- such as the idea that people mind their religious business in private, and that you can trust what other people tell you.
Can you trust what Muslim politicians are saying? In the Nordic culture, telling the truth is a virtue. The Aesir clan of the gods in Norse mythology listed nine noble virtues: courage, love of the truth, honorable living, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, confidence, diligence and endurance. In Islam, however, love of the truth does not seem to be a prominent virtue -- in some circumstances, not only is lying allowed, it is compulsory to lie if it benefits Islam.
The question of whether Islam and democracy are compatible is probably the most important one that Sweden has faced in modern times. If Islam is not compatible with democracy, while the number of Muslims in Sweden grows week by week, then Sweden as a democratic country may soon be but a memory.
With their goodhearted eagerness to be inclusive, to defend freedom of religion, and not to discriminate against any group, Swedish politicians are easy prey for Islamists with an anti-democratic agenda.
Islam has its own system of justice, built on divine law (sharia); a ban on any and all criticism of Islam, and laws regulating virtually everything in everyone's life. Moreover, there seems to be no interest on the part of the newcomers in abandoning these traditions in favor of the traditions of the West.
The fact that all political parties apart from the Sweden Democrats (who are critical of immigration) have Muslim representatives might lead people to think that if there are Muslims working within our democratic system, they must be democrats.
Yet Swedish imams make no secret that in Islam, politics and religion are branches on the same tree. If you phone an imam, and say you are a Swede who has grown tired of the Swedish Church's compliance on political issues, and that you have thought about converting to Islam, you might hear, as imam Ali at the Islamic Cultural Center in Lund, said, "No, you cannot take politics out of Islam, it is a part of our religion. Islam is a complete system, which people need."
Of course, if you are critical of Islam mixing politics and religion, you will not get answers like that -- the imams evidently know that such answers are not popular in Sweden -- anyway, not yet.
Anyone who thinks that these candid imams might be mistaken can study the official pronouncements on the subject. In fatwa number 07166, for instance, entitled, "Ruling on democracy and elections and participating in that system," Sheik Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, one of the most respected scholars in Sunni Islam, writes:
"Praise be to Allaah. Firstly: Democracy is a man-made system, meaning rule by the people for the people. Thus it is contrary to Islam, because rule is for Allaah, the Most High, the Almighty, and it is not permissible to give legislative rights to any human being, no matter who he is."
His fatwa number 98134, "Concept of democracy in Islam," states:
"Democracy is a system that is contrary to Islam, because it gives the power of legislation to the people or to those who represent them (such as members of Parliament). Based on that, in democracy legislative authority is given to someone other than Allah, may He be exalted; rather it is given to the people and their deputies, and what matters is not their consensus but the majority. Thus what the majority agree upon becomes laws that are binding on the nation, even if it is contrary to common sense, religious teaching or reason. In these systems legislation has been promulgated allowing abortion, same-sex marriage and usurious interest (riba); the rulings of sharee'ah have been abolished; and fornication/adultery and the drinking of alcohol are permitted. In fact this system is at war with Islam and its followers."
In fatwa number 111898, he answers a question on whether it is permissible to participate in non-Muslim, democratic elections:
"The Muslim participants should intend thereby to serve the interests of the Muslims and ward off evil and harm from them. The Muslim participants should think it most likely that their participation will have positive effects that will benefit the Muslims in that country, such as supporting their position, conveying their requests to the decision makers and those who are in charge of the country, and protecting their religious and worldly interests. The Muslim's participation in these elections should not lead to him neglecting his religious duties."
In fatwa number 178354, the Sheik is asked, "What is the ruling on one who reviles the Muslims and praises the kuffaar [infidels], and even wishes to be one of them?" He replies:
"Allah, may He be exalted, has instructed His believing slaves to love one another and to take one other as friends, and He has instructed them to hate His enemies and regard them with enmity for the sake of Allah. He has stated that friendship can only be among the believers and enmity is to be between them and the kaafirs; disavowing them is one of the basic principles of their faith and is part of perfecting their religious commitment. There are very many verses, hadeeths and comments of the early generation to that effect."
That Islam combines religion and politics, with a view to using politics to advance the religion, and further these views, which are clearly stated, appears a totally foreign concept to Swedish politicians. Perhaps this is the reason that a Turkish-born Muslim, Mehmet Kaplan, could become Minister for Housing and Urban Development, all the while rubbing shoulders with the Islamists of Turkish groups Milli Görüs and the neo-fascists of the Grey Wolves -- he was convinced no one would ever question him or his agenda, as questioning him about such alliances would be considered "Islamophobic."
When pictures of him consorting with these groups were leaked to the media, a video clip also emerged in which Kaplan compared Israel's actions with the Palestinians to Nazi Germany's treatment of the Jews. That remark, in 2016, crossed the line for what an Islamist may say and do in Sweden. In Sweden, it is incredibly important not to question the Holocaust. Disapproval may possibly have come as a surprise to many, who perceive Sweden's Israel policy under Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström as extremely critical of Israel. Wallström and the government's criticism of Israel stems mainly from a view of Israel as the stronger party in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, and from not recognizing that the Muslims and Arabs in the larger conflict perpetually threaten genocide against Israel and the Jews.
Mehmet Kaplan's remark forced him to resign. Alas, anyone thinking that the Kaplan affair would lead to a discussion of the role of Islam in Swedish politics, is mistaken. Nothing in the public debate so far suggests that Swedish politicians will seriously start looking into a possible underlying agenda among Muslim politicians, such as that they might in fact be working to spread Islam in Sweden, as Sheik Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid encourages. Such fatwas can be found in his IslamQA.info, one of the world's most popular websites on Islam.
Mehmet Kaplan, a Turkish-born Muslim, became Sweden's Minister for Housing and Urban Development, all the while rubbing shoulders with the Islamists of Turkish groups Milli Görüs and the neo-fascists of the Grey Wolves -- he was convinced no one would ever question him or his agenda, for fear that doing so would be considered "Islamophobic." Kaplan was only forced to resign in April after revelations that he compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Jan Ainali)
Mehmet Kaplan had only just resigned, when, within the Green Party, the next scandal broke. Yasri Khan, chairman of Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice (Svenska muslimer för fred och rättvisa), was also a would-be member of the Green Party executive committee. In a news report on Sweden's TV4, viewers watched in amazement as Khan refused to shake the female reporter's hand. Was a man who did this really a good representative for the "feminist" Green Party?
When the Green Party's spokesman, Gustav Fridolin, tried to explain Khan's actions and why he had been recommended for the party's executive, he only made matters worse. On a morning television show, Fridolin said that he "did not understand that women could feel so offended by someone refusing to shake hands." The same evening, Fridolin apologized for the apology.
The Green Party may be the easiest party in which Islamists can act as entryists. The party appears particularly fond of physical diversity and seems willing to accept just about anybody who appears to be not an ethnic Swede. Possibly the Green Party never counted on the Swedish people, including their own constituents, having a completely different view of religion, politics, gender equality and handshakes.
"I see a resemblance with how the Soviet Union acted during the Cold War, when it tried to infiltrate various democratic parties, and these methods are similar to what we see today, when people close to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist party, apparently have gotten a strong foothold within the Green Party."
A few days later, the Social Democratic politician Nalin Pekgul, a Kurdish Muslim, told the public-service Sveriges Television that she believes the Green Party is rife with Islamists: "The Green Party has for a long time become an arena for many Islamists to involve themselves in. That is the party where they have been strongest and most successful."
She also said that while other parties have been exposed to Islamists, the Green Party has been affected the most:
"The Islamists in the Green Party are members of the party executive, they are in City Halls around the country, in the District Councils, and they have friends in the Government Offices who push their issues and make sure their organizations get lots of money."
The key issue is what, if any, lesson Swedish politicians have learned from the Islamist revelations this spring. If Sweden is to survive as a secular democracy, then all politicians need to understand what Islam actually is. The fact that there are democratic Muslims does not mean that Islam itself is compatible with democracy. Individual Muslims may make a distinction between politics and religion, but this does not mean that Islam accepts this division. The question is where the democratic Muslims will be when Islam has gained even more influence in Sweden: Will they stand up for Swedish democracy if that means openly going against the tenets of Islam?
In 2009, the year before the Sweden Democrats party entered parliament, party leader Jimmie Åkesson published an opinion piece, headlined "The Muslims are our greatest foreign threat," in the newspaper Aftonbladet:
"This is the reason today's multicultural Swedish power elite is so totally blind to the dangers of Islam and Islamization. The presumption is that Muslims want nothing more than to adapt to a Western way of life and Western values, and that Islam is essentially the same as Christianity, the only difference being that Muslims have another name for God. Thus, the presumption is also that Islam can be tamed, the same way secular forces have tamed European Christianity and relegated it to the private sphere."
Åkesson further wrote that Islam has affected the Swedish society to a much higher degree than Swedish society has affected Islam. He listed several areas where Islam has made an impact. People who have made fun of Islam are forced to live under constant police protection; Muslim terrorist organizations are growing stronger; Muslim representatives are demanding sharia laws; taxpayer money is being spent on circumcising baby boys; public swimming pools separate men and women; demands for halal meat at supermarkets while schools should no longer serve pork, and so on.
Not even the Sweden Democrats seem to have focused on Islam's demands for political influence. Party leader Jimmie Åkesson asked what things will look like in another few decades, when the Muslim population has increased several times over, and cities such as Malmö most likely have a Muslim majority. He concluded the article with a promise:
"The multicultural societal elites may see this future as a colorful, interesting change for a Sweden and a Europe one usually denies has ever been 'Swedish' or 'European'. As a Sweden Democrat, I see this as our greatest foreign threat since World War II, and I promise to do everything in my power to reverse this trend when we go to the polls next year."
Åkesson's article ignited a firestorm. Members of the "establishment" swore they had never read anything so vile, and the article was reported to the Chancellor of Justice as suspected "hate speech." However, the Chancellor at the time, Göran Lambertz, did not open an investigation into the case. He noted that the law allows for "criticism of ethnic groups or circumstances pertaining to those groups."
"There is no doubt whatsoever that this does not cross the line for criminal behavior. You are allowed to say a lot of things that can be considered offensive and annoying and in many ways unpopular. That goes with freedom of speech."
Seven years have passed. The Muslim population of Sweden is approaching one million (out of 9.8 million inhabitants), but even the Sweden Democrats do not mention a threat from Islam.
But whether the politicians' unwillingness to discuss a threat stems from ignorance or fear, to answer a question by hanging up the phone is simply not good enough. It is the politicians who have filled the country with Islam, and the Swedish people have a right to know the result. Above all, they have a right to demand that the politicians know the consequences of their decisions for the Swedes, who are secular and who love their democracy.
While Gatestone Institute stands by the articles written for it to date by Ingrid Carlqvist, Gatestone is no longer affiliated with her in any way.