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Sweden accused of ‘abducting’ Muslim children

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(Stockholm) Accused of systematized “kidnapping” of Muslim children from their families, the Swedish authorities are trying to counter what they denounce as a disinformation campaign, against a background of distrust from immigrant families and demonstrations with conspiratorial overtones.

At the end of 2021, there were first videos widely distributed on social networks showing children placed in panic, their parents in tears, some of them during interventions by social services, with no or very little context.

Then followed viral allegations that the Nordic country was a fascist state abducting Muslim children and handing them over to Christian families, where they would be forced to drink alcohol and eat pork.

Worried about the growing scale of assertions already mentioned by several Middle Eastern media, the Swedish government had to step up to deny it.

“We absolutely do not do that,” assured the Minister of Immigration and Integration Anders Ygeman, in an interview with AFP.

According to him, the campaign is fueled “in part by angry parents who have failed in their education and want to blame or blame it on the Swedish authorities”.

“But there are also malevolent forces that want to exploit the frustration of these parents and sow mistrust and division in Swedish society.”

“Islamic Affairs”

The role of the “Shuoun Islamiya” (“Islamic Affairs”) video platform, which released nearly 20 accusatory videos, and a Facebook page called “Barrens rättigheter, mina rättigheter” (“Children’s rights, my “), question particularly, as well as that of radical imams.

The newly created Psychological Defense Agency says many of the videos are old and used to “polarize”.

For Julia Agha, director of the Swedish Arabic-language media Alkompis, the entry of foreign actors, including Islamist influencers into the country, “has added a religious filter” and contributed to making it “a campaign of hatred against Sweden”. .

In a country which has granted asylum or family reunification to more than 400,000 people over the last decade – in terms of its population, a record in Europe – the distrust of Muslim families has also been expressed in the streets .

Several demonstrations have taken place this month, in Stockholm, Gothenburg and last weekend in Malmö. At the microphone, accusations of “kidnapping” and “child trafficking”. On the placards: “Stop kidnapping our children”, as well as allegations of rape and sexual abuse of children.

Mariya Ellmoutaouakkil, a 35-year-old mother who arrived in Sweden from Morocco a dozen years ago, organized a demonstration against social services in her small town of Gällivare, in the north of the country.

Two of her three children, aged 6 and 10, were placed in care last year on suspicion of domestic violence.

According to her, the decision is based only on interviews made by the social services with her children to which she never had access – the Swedish authorities do not comment on individual cases.

If she recognizes that it is not a “kidnapping”, she understands why some parents use this word.

“To me, as a mother, it can start to feel like a kidnapping. When as parents we don’t get answers, I can understand that we use this word, ”she defends.

For Mikail Yuksel, founder of the “Nyans” (“Nuance”) party, one of whose aims is to defend Muslims against “Islamophobia” in Sweden, dismissing the whole campaign as “disinformation” is too convenient a way to evacuate criticism against the “LVU” law governing the placement of children.

Over-representation

“The statistics made by the social services themselves show that the children of parents born abroad are twice as likely to be placed as those of parents born in Sweden”, he pleaded.

Present at the Gothenburg demonstration, the leader of this new small party is himself controversial: expelled from the Swedish Center party, he was accused of links which he denies with the Turkish ultranationalist movement of the “Grey Wolves “.

In Sweden in 2020, 9,034 children were forcibly placed – only as a last resort according to the social services authority.

“Only when these voluntary measures are not possible and there is a considerable risk that the health and development of the child will be affected can LVU be applied,” Socialstyrelsen told AFP.

In the first country to ban spanking and all physical violence against children more than half a century ago and where children’s rights are taught from kindergarten, cultural gaps can be difficult to bridge.

“When you come to Sweden, you should know that here we always act for the good of the child, not the parents,” said Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

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