Jonathan Robertsson is a Swedish student who has translated material for us in the past. This morning he sent us a report about a forthright editorial in today’s Dagens Nyheter written by Lisbeth Lindeborg:
I’ve been aware of it for a long time, but now Sweden’s largest morning paper Dagens Nyheter has published a debate-editorial, signed by Lisbeth Lindeborg, with the headline “In Sweden, the Critics of Islam Are Frightened into Silence.”- - - - - - - - - -
Pieces of text in italics are my translations of the article (I’ve chosen for translation certain pieces with a good deal of importance):
The state scientist Lisbeth Lindeborg on Swedish timidity to conflict around Islam: Unlike our neighboring countries and the large countries of the EU, Sweden sweeps every inconvenient matter under the rug. Sweden is a European country characterized by a distorted and conflict-averse debate about Islam. In Sweden, representatives who offer constructive criticism of Islam are being attacked and pointed to as Islamophobes, with the purpose of frightening them into silence. This is particularly unfortunate, given that the UN’s Human Rights Commission recently adopted a resolution which in principle prohibits the criticism of Islam. The resolution is a scandal, since the UN commission ought to be aware that human rights exist to protect individuals, not religions. For the Muslims who risk their lives for the reform and modernization of Islam, the UN resolution is a slap in the face.
Then she states that the Human Rights Commissions consists of representatives of dictatorships, not democracies. She also writes that international judicial experts oppose the resolution.
It is true that the resolution, like others, is not cogent, but the fact that it exists is bad enough. With its vague wording — one is not to defame a religion (=Islam) — the resolution becomes a dangerous weapon in the hands of religious fundamentalists. For who decides what defaming is? Who assumes the right to reconstrue criticism as defaming? Beyond doubt we’re heading for semantic chaos, where the formulations of the resolution will turn into an Eldorado for irrationally and emotionally-loaded arbitrariness.
[R]eform-Muslims worldwide are aware that only constructive criticism can lead the development of Islam forward in the same way Christianity went through hard development periods since the Middle Ages, with the Enlightenment as a decisive phase.
She mentions that in Norway, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, the debate about Islam is more open than in Sweden. She thinks that the resolution will counteract a possible reformation of Islam. She writes that global Islam is a matter involving all of us, infidels as well as Muslims, and mentions several well-respected philosophers, theologians and journalists from the Arab world who also think so.
She also brings up that the issue of women’s rights is one of the most important matters for reform Muslims. Then she writes about her own experience:
How women are valued as human beings I experienced myself during a visit in Syria. There I had the privilege of personally meeting the Grand Mufti of all Syria, the doctor of theology Ahmad Hassoun. I was the only woman in a group of five people; the others were one politician and three professors. Of course, Doctor Hassoun did not welcome me with a handshake, and when I asked him a question he answered me with half-shut eyes. Also, during the following lunch in a screened-off room at a well-known restaurant where I sat diagonally to the Great Mufti, he did not favor me with a glance. Islamic theological dignitaries only favor their equals (i.e. other men) with eye contact.
When asking the Mufti whether such medieval rules ought to be abolished, he answered that “one can’t change something that has been decreed by God”.
She ends her article by once again telling us that the resolution is scandalous to every reform-Muslim who asks critical questions.
I think it is good that an article of this sort has been published in a leading newspaper in Sweden. Such criticism is usually found only in the blogosphere, but Dagens Nyheter has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, while the blogs, the “citizen journalists”, assuredly are not read by so many. You should consider this great news from Scandinavia!
Indeed it is.