The view from Sweden

What exactly are good tone and acceptable behaviour?

Are they the same for everyone? Should we make special allowances for people if we are afraid of them? Or do we make such allowances simply because we believe they are incapable of any better? Doesn’t that make such a society institutionally racist?

Recently Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats in this peaceful Scandinavian country, made waves when he wrote an article decrying what he perceived as the threat to Sweden from large numbers of fanatical Islamist immigrants adopting an increasingly strident tone and some alarmingly violent tactics.

While the vein in which Åkesson wrote and some of the aims of his party may leave a lot to be desired in the view of the political mainstream, there is no denying that there is considerable substance to what he writes.

The political establishment and the media immediately tore him to shreds.

Unfortunately, however, that was the typical Swedish knee-jerk reaction to anything critical of Muslims or Islam. The political establishment and the media elite, accustomed to routinely lambasting Israel and, at best, ignoring threats to the well-being of Swedish Jews, have over the years become equally accustomed to banning all critical examination of subjects tangenting Muslims or Islam.

The Jerusalem Post recently published a MEMRI film clip showing the tone that is being spread in Swedish mosques. This follows hard on the heels of a sermon in the Stockholm Grand Mosque a couple of years ago in which the imam thundered that Jews – in Sweden – should be killed on account of the conflict in the Middle East. That was immediately shrugged off by the Swedish authorities as “verbal posturing, part of the customary discourse when the subject is the Middle East”.

These horrendous views from Swedish Muslim religious figures are routinely ignored, while attempts by a right-wing Swedish politician to highlight the threat, are met with massive derision and solid resistance.

Sweden’s unwillingness to adopt a principled, moral stance whereby the same standards are applied to everyone, is very troubling indeed.

It’s an unwillingness that is set to garner the Sweden Democrats considerable support in the upcoming elections next autumn.

Nothing happens in a vacuum.