Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Swedish State Media

The italicized text below is drawn from a translated article from Swedish State TV’s “Debate” feature.

The account of the event given in the article is riddled with inaccuracies and distortions. To set the record straight, interspersed in regular typeface within the article’s text are corrections, explanatory notes, and commentary by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Henrik Ræder Clausen.

Many thanks to Cavatus for translating the SVT article.

Young Muslim: My Evening With the Sweden Democrats

Published 5 September, 2010 - 2:00 p.m.

THE SWEDEN DEMOCRATS. Khim is a Swedish Muslim. Thanks to his name and his looks he succeeded in getting into one of the Sweden Democrats’ (hereinafter the SD) meetings.

SD Meeting — Khim

Considering that no invitee check list or particular security was in place for the meeting, “succeeded in getting in” indicates a level of secrecy that just wasn’t there. There indeed is a need for Sverigedemokraterna to be discreet about their meetings, due to threats and violence from the extreme left. That, however, is not something to fault SD for, for they do not use violence as a political tool.

During the meeting racial biology was mixed with expressions of hatred for Muslims.

This is a very straight lie, which is refreshing. The truth is that the seminar (as announced) was about Islam, from three different points of view:

1) The remarkably high level of crime among immigrant (mainly Muslim youth), and why our usual tools for preventing crime are increasingly failing.
2) How Islam changed Iran from a reasonably free secular society to a totalitarian Islamic Republic, from the point of view of an Iranian.
3) How Islam has moved from being a feature of the Middle East to being a real threat against freedom of expression in the West.

A repeated feature of the evening was the compassion for Muslims living under this system, concern about women’s’ rights and the need to uphold Western-style democracy in face of various kinds of threats and intimidation. A common tactic is employed here: That of assuming criticism of Islam to be ‘hatred for Muslims’. The author is not able, or not willing, to distinguish between an ideology and the people living under that ideology.

But what Khim could not have imagined was the fear and the insecurity among the participants.

Unless Khim has a certifiable skill of reading the minds of others, this does make sense.

People are already sitting in neat lines when I enter the small premises in Haga, which generally serves as an activity house for senior citizens but is the place for another kind of meeting this evening. Glances full of expectation are exchanged. People are fidgeting. From the loudspeakers you can hear a strangely low-voiced battle song: a little flower that against the odds fights and grows in an environment where nobody believes in it. “Be strong,” the voice sings, over and over again. There is expectation in the air. The tram passes by noisily.

I would have come here together with a friend, but he never got any confirmatory e-mail on where the meeting was to be held — perhaps it was his Arabic sounding name put him out of the target group. That is why I am sitting alone in a room together with some 60-odd people.

The actual number of participants was roughly 90. The room was quite full.

They have posted almost ten photographers along the walls of the room.

They did not. SD had two. The remaining 3-4 photographers were from the press.

There is a succession of flashlights. During several hours the photographers take photos of us in the audience.

Using flash for indoor photography at night is quite common, as is the fact that professional photographers take many shots in order to pick the best. Photographing the audience, however, is best avoided. That Khim emphasizes this is crafty, though, for it increases the expectation that something exciting will follow.

Something weird, hysterical fills the hall.
- - - - - - - - -
What? How?

A girl in front of me takes the chair beside me and puts it in the row in front. Her eyes are gleaming. She applauds frenziedly when the leader, a young man in a suit, opens the meeting, which will deal with the greatest threat against our democracy: Islam.

“The peaceful Islamization is the most dangerous,” he starts. “They can never become like us”.

Here is the slide from Islam as an ideology to Muslims. Having been present at the lecture, I do not recognize the last of these quotes.


The first speaker is introduced. A Danish psychologist.

“Islam and the Western world will never be able to meet”, he says. “Not to react with aggression to criticism is regarded as a weakness in the Muslim world”. He shows statistics and press cuttings from all possible corners of Europe. Nothing from Sweden.

Being Danish, not Swedish, it is hard to fault Sennels from working with the figures he knows best.

He gets the first burst of applause when he mentions the election commercial of the SD. He continues. Muslims are not capable of thinking critically. Their doctrine has reprogrammed their brains so that much that the nerve pathways themselves are wrong. A sectarian, unpleasant atmosphere. Strange brains? Haven’t we heard this before?

This is maliciously misconstrued. Sennels was asked about this, and did mention that the parts of the brains used most get developed most. Trying to turn this rather trivial neurological fact into a claim of some brains being “strange” is an interesting imaginary twist by the author.

All Muslims that he had met had been criminal, he says,

This is factually untrue. This renders the contradiction below equally untrue:

and that he has worked as a psychologist in prison does not seem to do as an explanation. When he at the end is asked if he saw any positive examples where the correctional treatment had succeeded in integrating Muslims, he naturally answers:

“Of course, they get a job and leave the criminal path!”. No one seems to reflect further on that. That answer evokes no applause.

This would only be interesting if Sennels had said what he is quoted for above. He did not.

Not to see the connection between the aspect of class and criminality is worrying, but to see the connection between religious appurtenance and a defect of signalling in the brain is … to say the least, frightening.

It sure would be, if it was true. This is again malignly misconstrued. Then, if indeed it is true that Muslims take more easily to anger, this will have an effect on neurological development. If — and only if — Islam promotes anger, this effect will be real. Since religion does affect brain activity to some extent, this might make an interesting research subject. Misconstruing what was said doesn’t further dialogue or understanding.

To conclude the Dane says that the best to do is to stop the Muslim expansion, close the borders and pray for a happy ending. Pray to whom, I wonder.

Your choice :)

The leader of the assembly is Kent Ekeroth, who is running for a seat in the parliament for the SD. He takes the microphone and tells an anecdote he has experienced himself, and that he believes all the audience will feel acquainted with. He was bullied by Muslims at school. The confession is pronounced and no one asks any resulting questions. Not even the psychologist bats an eyelid.

As has been documented recently in Germany, this problem is real and widespread.

The two following speakers relate memories of their childhood from Iraq at war.

Khim does not have his facts straight here. The country they related stories from was Iran, and it was not from the war. The first speaker, Farshad Kholghi, related how his parents chose to flee from Iran before he would be sent to the minefields with a green key around his neck. The second speaker, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, related how her family escaped the Iranian revolution with the very last plane out of the country, and how she later, as an adult, was caught in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion of the country.

An Iranian but nowadays Danish actor gets applause when he proudly says that he is called a racist in Denmark.

In context, it deserves mention that Farshad Kholghi is also a comedian, and that the audience response was laughter when he said: “I am accused of being a . ‘racist’? Well, look at me!”. This is ‘irony’ or ‘ridicule’, not ‘pride’. The obvious implication, that it doesn’t make sense to accuse an immigrant from the Middle East of being a ‘racist’, was understood by the audience at large, yet lost on Khim.

“We must keep together”, he says. “We must show that we don’t tolerate their manners. I don’t mean that we have to be violent,” he interjects when it seems as if it exactly what he hints.

Even an outspoken rejection of violence is here taken as a subtle encouragement of it.

“We must raise our voices!”

Exactly. Speak out, not beat up.

The man’s story is spiced with sarcastic imitations of Muslims. He wrinkles his face to an old man’s and speaks with the voice of a witch. Wry faces that make you think of the anti-Semitic caricatures that were spread around Europe during another period of time: pictures that foretold the arrival of the shadows.

Apparently it bears repeating that Farshad Kholghi is a professional actor and stand-up comedian, and is very accustomed to using facial expressions. His own very Iranian appearance would seem to ridicule the very thought that racism is an issue here, but that does not prevent Khim from bringing up the most evil of associations from European history.

“Political correctness is a poison! We must stop things like Halal-TV [a program broadcast in Sweden last year where three veiled Muslims girls were presenters and the aim of the program was to make Swedes positive to Islam — translator’s note]. They help Hamas and Khamenei to brainwash more and more people!”

Given that Hamas is a terrorist organization killing more Palestinians than Jews, and that Khamenei is the religious leader of the Iranian Islamic republic, this is serious matter indeed.

The last speaker is introduced as a hero after having been accused and reported for hate speech. The applause rises to the ceiling. She grew up in Iran as well, in a diplomatic family that was forced to move when the revolution came and their maid burnt down their house, according to her, completely without provocation: “One day she just started to hate us.”

Quoting factually here. Having the house burned down is an unpleasant experience indeed. Having extensive personal experience from Islamic countries is actually a good background for speaking about Islam.

During the whole meeting they are completely uninterested in finding out how differences in class and other factors can influence.

Definitely not, for this was not the subject of the evening. In modern times we have a society where classes don’t really exist, for social mobility is available to anyone. With proper talent, education and effort, anyone can make it to any level in society, and the question “Which class are you from” is extinct, except perhaps in leftist circles. This evening was about how Islam affects our societies, not about class struggle, which would be taught elsewhere.

Instead they content themselves with establishing that Muslims are essentially different from Westerners. All that individual Muslims do depends on strange brains.

Here, finally, it seems we’ve found the reason for Khim to be so profoundly unhappy with how he spent his evening: He misunderstood, deliberately or not, the comments made by Sennels about neurology and brain development. Granted, the remark was cryptic and not easy to understand without some background in neurology, thus misunderstanding it comes easily. Also conducive to misunderstanding is the fact that this was not a subject of the speech by Sennels or the other speakers. But using this as a key to understanding everything else that was said that evening is nothing short of absurd.

She tells us about her time in Iran and Kuwait, and about how she had worked with immigration and visa cases at the embassy and therefore knew very well what she talked about when it comes to the contempt for women and untruthfulness of Muslims.

It’s good that the problems of women’s’ right in Islamic societies are at least acknowledged.

Then she moved to Libya, and found that it was nuts that all the signs were in Arabic.

ESW did not say that having road signs in Arabic was “nuts”. She was referring to the Arabic signs because she had to adapt and work her way around this problem. Which she did, without making a problem of it.

Her story is not only boring...

Probably ‘class struggle’ would interest him more, after all?

...but smells of fear, which is strengthened when she over and over again assures: “I won’t submit!”

It would appear that little attention has been paid to the various kinds of intimidation ESW has been subject to, nor the feminist foundation on which she stands.

Her joy at being in the footlights is obvious. The lecturer is grateful thanks for having been reported for hate speech. Now she is world famous and can travel from country to country and lecture at revivalist meeting like this. She proudly reads out sentences from the lecture than had her reported to the police. “Islam is malicious and is constantly at war with the world around,” she reads from her piece of paper.

Factually correct through 14 centuries, as documented in The Legacy of Jihad and many other books, including Samuel Huntington’s famous The Clash of Civilizations, which contains the famous statement “Islam has bloody borders”.

When she has finished the reading, she declares: “Islam is like a disease”.

Saying that about an ideology does not constitute a condemnation of the humans actually living under it. When one considers living conditions and the human rights situation in Islamic countries, it would seem as if something is more right than wrong here.

She encourages the participants, who in theory could be interested in actually reading the Koran, to read two other books instead: an edited version of the mentioned book, that she asserts is “not that thick”, and a book on Sharia for non-believers. Some interested people in the audience make notes.

Which is good. Sharia is the worst aspect of Islam and the one that most immediately deserves our attention. Islam without Sharia would hardly constitute a problem. Pointing to the more important problem is sensible, and tackling those should be a top priority for Western democracies. A serious audience here: Takes notes, rather than shout in anger.

She finishes by saying: “The truth is the new hate crime,” and, somewhat inconsistently: “Three times three must always be nine.” Many people seem to count on their fingers, before they give her resounding applause. What is presented here is faith, religion. The difference between different types of people. “Three times three must always be nine.” Mysteriousness.

Khim apparently lost the context here. The point that ESW had just made was that she has been reported for “hate speech” in spite of everything in her lectures being documentable, usually by referring to the Quran or other Islamic sources. Common sense dictates that the truth should be an absolute defence in matters like these, and to most people it is an outrage that speaking documentable truth can be criminalized. When she mentions that 3x3 must remain 9, it is a metaphor for the truth being an absolute, not subject to pressure by powerful organizations or individuals. That is hardly much of a mystery.

Before the woman leaves the stage a man takes the microphone and begins to formulate a question with self-assurance. In German? In German. The assembly is fidgeting. The leader, Ekeroth, hisses nervously:
“Anders! No one here speaks German!” The scene is almost comical: the man nods and leans back with some kind of ill-timed self-assurance, and continues, apparently incapable of taking in the words of the leader, to formulate a German comment: “Ja, aber also, können Sie vielleicht, erhm, also -” and so on. He spreads out his fingers, lets them bounce together. His German is not even particularly good. Ekeroth hurries forward to him and tells him to ask the question in Swedish. The man stands up. “Could she describe the present political situation in Austria? In German?”

Odd question, odd choice of language, yet legitimate. It makes sense that the moderator requests the questioner to use Swedish instead.

A remarkable quietness is spreading in the hall.

Given that the audience is Swedish, that is hardly surprising. Few would consider it sensible to insist on asking in a language that only one person in the room has really mastered. Given that ESW masters English on a very high level, there really seems no relevant reason for an explanation to be given in German.

I am thinking of a scene in the TV-series V, one of the favourite horror series of my childhood, where the skin is falling off Diana’s face and reveals a lizard.

Khim has some unusual associations. Not particular relevant here, though.

He doesn’t get any proper description of the situation of Austria, neither in English nor in German nor in any other language.

That would be a subject for a full lecture in itself, hardly something to bring up at the end of the Q&A session of the last lecture of the evening.

It is time for the leader to conclude the evening. He preaches solemnly that Islam is spreading over the world in two ways: partly by way of the sword — a myth older than the crusades — and partly — by way of what he strangely enough calls the “export of Muslims”.

As above, the spread of Islam by the sword is a fact, not a myth. During the first century after the death of Muhammad, Islam spread wide and far by conquest, bringing under its command two-thirds of the Christian world of that time, the Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian regions and more, moving west to Gibraltar, conquering Spain, finally stopped at Tours in AD 732 by Karl Martell. Likewise, radical Islamic leaders are on record for expecting to Islamize Europe through immigration. Denial of this is probably due to ignorance.

I get the feeling that he really believes that Muslims in Sweden have been stationed to spread Islam: that the divided families and homeless individuals that have fled from the world’s trouble spots and now are waiting in the barracks and the refugee camps spread over this increasingly cold surface of this continent, have left their homes in order to “take over Europe.”

While this is probably not the goal of the individual Muslim refugee seeking better living conditions, this indeed is the ambition of radical Islamic leaders: To re-establish the Caliphate, and to make it as large as absolutely possible, no area on Earth excluded. The construction of “Conqueror Mosques” in Europe underlines this radical attitude.

He finishes by saying that a country actually can be Islamized without active missionizing. Therefore individual Muslims don’t need to devote themselves to political fundamentalism. It suffices that Muslims exist and stick to their faith in God.

This is a subject that certainly could trigger some interesting discussion. Lebanon would seem a case in point, as would Kosovo.

“We must keep together” is a sentence that returns during the meeting. “We must stick together”. And those who sit in the small room nod, they are secure in this room but out in the big world they are surrounded by malevolent strangers. They feel secure during the meeting.

An interesting contradiction to the intense fear he claimed to sense earlier on.

I leave the house. I walk slowly in the autumn evening. I was born in Sweden. My ancestors stayed in the province of Småland when many people emigrated to the USA. My “Swedishness” stretches innumerable generations back. My ancestors built this country, cultivated the ground. My father went out into the world as a sailor in order to make his living, and he brought stories from other cultures to the kitchen table, and to me it has always been obvious not to judge people because I don’t understand them. There have been two types of people: those you like and those you don’t know.

Apparently, ‘dislike’ seems out of the question, no matter what other people might actually be doing. That is disingenuous, for there is every reason to dislike people who systematically behave in harmful and destructive ways. Most people dislike people who behave badly, and this distinction between Right and Wrong is fundamental for creating a civilized society. Yet in Sweden, political correctness seems so rampant that the distinction is all but dismantled.

Ten years ago I was challenged to read The Koran. In it I found all I had ever sought for. The meaning of life. Love. Humility. Justice. How to act against one’s fellow men that sometimes so difficult love you should show even those who don’t return it, those who want to hurt. To protect nature. Never to force anyone to do anything. To fight injustices.

At least he is clear and honest about his personal conviction, a nice change from the lack of clarity presented above. One might wonder if his inclination to perceive things with a malign view is from before his conversion to Islam or followed it.

I was raised by a loving and intelligent mother who always taught me to go my own way. Never to follow the stream but to analyze and question. She has taught me to criticize and discuss, and this is exactly what Islam has continued to encourage me to do.

Well, there sure is criticism here. The lack of clarity constitutes a problem, though, and invalidates his criticism.

I walk home through a darkening Gothenburg. I think of what was said in the narrow hall. That a new age in Swedish politics has begun. I am cold. Above me the moon. At the same time: this new age only attracts 60 persons to a small hall in Gothenburg. With their logic it was me, a Swedish Muslim, that was the biggest threat against democracy and the “Swedishness” in a room full of Danish senior citizens, English speaking couples, funny Iranians and German speaking gentlemen.

At least Sverigedemokraterna have shown themselves not to be xenophobes, inviting people from countries near and far. But one should probably not expect Khim to give them any credit for that. Doing so just might be contrary to his religious conviction.


Anne-Kit said...

So he was "challenged to read the Koran" and found everything he was always looking for.

Shame he didn't think to pick up a Christian Bible at any time before that.

But then again, perhaps they have all been removed from the public space in Sweden, indicted for "hate speech" ...

Henrik R Clausen said...

Shame he didn't think to pick up a Christian Bible at any time before that.

Possibly his leftie parents didn't want to 'indoctrinate' him with old thruth, wanting him to examine things on his own.

Folly abounds..

Jedilson Bonfim said...

This whole thing sounds like getting a Nazi to speak about his impressions of a gathering of British soldiers making plans for a battle against the Third Reich's forces, in order to try to persuade Britons not to fight against them... But, since this took place in Sweden, where cultural suicide or Somalization has become the elite's raison d'être, this does not surprise me at all.

Anonymous said...

Of course if the psych. had averred that Roman Catholics were brain damaged from praying Rosaries he'd have been a hero to the Left...prob would have his own show on PMSNBC by now!