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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Sweden questions whether government should support groups linked to Muslim Brotherhood

Study says MB has ties to Stockholm’s largest mosque and Swedish group representing 100,000 Muslims

Stockholm, Sweden. Westend61/ Corbis / Mel Stuart
Stockholm, Sweden. Westend61/ Corbis / Mel Stuart

A study for the Swedish government questions whether public money should be spent on groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamic organisation designated as a terrorist group in the UAE and other countries.

Sweden's Islamic Federation, the Stockholm Mosque and the Swedish Muslim Council reportedly have ties to the Brotherhood, Malmö University social anthropologist Aje Carlbom said. Carlbom wrote the report on behalf of MBS, the agency responsible for civil defence and emergency management in Sweden.

The 70-page report, Islamic Activism in a Multicultural Context, questions whether Swedish groups should get state support if they are linked to the Muslim organisation, Swedish Radio reported. Carlbom also questioned whether some of the Swedish groups are working in the public interest.

"The Swedish state finds the question of gender equality very important, while at the same time giving money to organisations that do not work for gender equality, but for other values," Aje Carlbom told Swedish Radio. Carlbom didn’t respond to repeated email and phone requests for comment on Friday.

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Concerted efforts to constrain the Muslim Brotherhood are overdue but welcome

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Temmam Asbai, chairman of the Islamic Federation, rejected allegations that his group was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, telling journalists that the federation was a "Swedish organisation, not ruled by anyone else." He said that if Sweden denies public funding based on unfounded suspicions it would serve to silence uncomfortable opinions.

Iman Mahoud Khalfi, head of the Stockholm Mosque, the largest mosque in Sweden, did not return The National’s phone calls on Friday. The Swedish Muslim Council, an umbrella organisation of Islamic organisations which represents 100,000 Swedish Muslims, also didn’t respond to requests for an interview.

A similar MBS study conducted in 2017 concluded that Islamists were threatening Swedish values by building a “parallel societal structure that competes with the rest of society over Swedish citizens’ value systems”, but the 2017 report was criticised as "unscientific." Carlbom's latest study is seen in Sweden as a follow-up. Two of the people Carlbom interviewed in the new study were reportedly ex-members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Dagens Nyheter journalist Erik Helmerson wrote an opinion piece for the Swedish newspaper on Thursday called: "The State Provides a Mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood's Message."

"If we mean business with our integration policies, we cannot provide millions of kronor to organisations wishing to segregate Muslims," Helmerson said.

The Muslim Brotherhood, active in Sweden since the 1970s, was founded in Egypt in 1928, operates in 70 countries and purports to have more than 1 million members.