A report commissioned by Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) to look into the influence of the Islamist organization the Muslim Brotherhood in the country has sparked debate, with a number of researchers disputing the methodology used and conclusions reached.
The report suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly leading Islamists in building a parallel society in Sweden by infiltrating organizations and political parties in the country. It also claims that there is an "established structure of values among the country's political elite which stipulate how as a citizen you should approach 'minorities'".
The paper’s authors claim the Brotherhood is working to increase the number of practicing Muslims in Sweden, encouraging tension with Secular society, and targeting political parties, NGOs, academic institutions and other civil society organisations.
In the report, the Islamism of the MB is described as a totalitarian political ideology born out of Islam, a religion. This can make it “difficult to oppose what on the surface appears to be (a vulnerable minority) religious rights”, it explains. Critics, therefore, “run the risk of being called ‘racist’ or ‘Islamophobic’ and because of the situation in Swedish society such classifications endanger people’s careers”.
“Islamists aim to build a parallel social structure competing with the rest of the Swedish society the values of its citizens. In this sense, MB’s activists pose a long-term challenge in terms of the country’s social cohesion”, it states.
Adding: “Migration from Africa and the Middle East is likely to continue in coming years, both in form of relatives and refugees… Given that MB’s goal is to increase the number of practising Muslims in Swedish or European territory, there is a great likelihood that a ‘tug of war’ will occur between the majority community and the Islamic community with the MB’s encouragement…”
But in a blog post signed by 22 Swedish researchers specializing in religious studies, the claims were labelled as "almost conspiracy-theory like", and the study accused of ignoring previous research, lacking sources, and basing conclusions on personal views rather than evidence.
"The major shortcoming of the report is that it seems to be completely unaware of Islamic research which currently exists at Swedish and Nordic universities," Lund University professor of Islamic studies Jan Hjärpe, who was one of the 22 researchers to sign the blog post, told The Local. "The list of signatories is comprised largely of active researchers who have done and do in-depth studies on a range of the relevant concerns. It is striking that MSB ordered this report without at all consulting the expertise available. I suspect this is due to ignorance on the authority's behalf," he added.
The Local contacted the report's editor Magnus Norell for comment on Friday, but he was not available due to travel commitments. In response to the blog post he previously told public service broadcaster SVT: "Had they smoked something before they read it? You just need to read the report. If someone doesn't accept this, there's not much I can do about it. It's proven."