Swedens naivety obstacle for combating radicalization

Annika Borg

Annika Borg

Recently I wrote a column in Göteborgsposten (links below) on the subject of how Morocco combat radicalization. My example was an imam school in Rabat, The Mohammed VI Institute, a school dedicated to increase tolerance and transparency in theological matters. This column resulted in that I was contacted by people working with the same issues internationally and asked to elaborate the topic in an English article for a wider audience.

My scholarly discipline is theology and gender studies. Since several years back, I have taken an additional scholarly interest in the MENA-region as a whole and its complex matters.

Contrary to countries like Morocco, Sweden has an utterly naive approach to ”Islamist Extremism” and its consequences. Awareness about its complexity and threats has only recently been awakening and debated in Sweden. For example: a month ago the authorities detained a man who had been active inside mosques in Sweden promoting terror ideology.

A TV-documentary made by SVT – the Swedish broadcasting company – regarding  the newly created Moroccan imam school and the Moroccan bureau of judicial investigation, both dedicated to combatting terrorism, gave important understanding of what can be achieved. In this documentary, the Swedish journalist Sharon Jåma gave the Swedish audience a good opportunity to learn about the effective efforts being made by Morocco’s religious and security institutions to counter extremists ideology.

What is being said in mosques by imams and other religious authorities is crucial and can influence Muslims belief and their daily life, quoting a Moroccan teacher at the imams school. To combat radicalization there is a need for religious know-how.

Furthermore, the documentary explained the ingredients of the Moroccan success in this front, a success that has two ingredients: one is the daily vigilance of the country security services and the second critical one is the ongoing effort to promote tolerance with non-Muslim faiths. The Moroccan Monarch is seen as a legitimate descendant of the Prophet and hold the title ”Commander of the faithful”. This is an important factor, because the religious legitimacy ascribed enables him to promote ”tolerant Sunni Islamic thoughts”  and religious debate, which are included in training educational program for students coming from different Muslim and European countries, such as  Mali and France .

In Sweden there is a lack of awareness concerning the breeding ground of extremism inside mosques, which enables extremists to spread their poisoning ideology and unhealthy views towards western culture. Sadly, this has been able to grow and getting stronger through funding from various tax-funded educational associations (in Swedish; studieförbund), organizations, and congregations. Congregations that have proved to be on the wrong side of democracy, freedom and equality – even if they made use of democratic arguments to get taxpayers ‘ money.

There have been discussions about an imam training school in Sweden earlier. There is, however, several bumps on the road. An important startingpoint and criteria should be the discussion about the accurate interpretation of Islam as a basis for a training. Who has the legitimacy to represent Islam and Muslims? One thing for sure, the ideology pursued by the Muslim Brotherhood is not promoting a good tolerance, and opposes western values. We can see that clearly based on the organizations activists very conservative discourse in different European countries. Today the Moroccan security and religious know-how is being solicited by many Muslim and European countries facing the threats of intolerant interpretations, radicalization and terrorism.

In my own country I have found that theologians at Uppsala University have initiated a cooperation with Islamists in Sweden. Islamists who have a close connection to the Muslim Brotherhood and are promoting their ideology. The aim is to involve in and build up an education for imams. The partner is a tax-funded muslim education association. This association has for several years been critizised for inviting guests with anti-democratic and intolerant views on several matters. The associations director of studies is publicly acclaiming Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Such development and partnership, together with a huge downside on Swedens national security, is possible thanks to the Swedish naivety regarding both the danger of Islamist Radicals and the threat posed by intolerant interpretations, interpretations with messages that are opposed to western values.



IMG_0030King Mohammed VI with female imam in the imam school.






IMG_0034Yusuf al-Qaradawi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.