Anyreligious congregation in Swedenthat receives state funding is also expected to “uphold and reinforce the basicvalues of Swedish society”.
Amongother things, this involves promoting equal rights between the sexes, and thatcongregations are to promote efforts to counteract discrimination, violence andbrutality.
Uppdraggranskning (Assignment Investigate),the investigative current affairs program of Swedish television (SVT) , wentundercover with hidden camera to mosques around the country to find out whatthe real situation was. Equipped with a hidden camera and a list of fouridentical questions, our associates sought out Sweden’s most influential mosquesand their representatives.
Half of these mosques receive state funding, whilethe others are supported by municipal funds. Seven mosques were visited inperson, while three more congregations were consulted over the phone.
Themission was to establish what guidance was given to women in the following fourareas: May a man take more than one wife? Does a woman have the right to denyher husband sex? Are husbands permitted to beat their wives? And if she isbeaten, may she contact the police?
Theanswers they received, which were also recorded, reveal that there is a hugediscrepancy between the official picture and the actual values Muslimcongregations communicate when they are unaware of the fact that they are beingmonitored.
Oneof Sweden’s most respected,and well-frequented, mosques is located at the heart of Stockholm, at Medborgarplatsen. Thegovernment turns to the religious leaders there as being representative of theMuslim community in Sweden.As recently as February, Minister for Public Administration, Stefan Attefall,attended a Friday prayer service there.
TheFamily Counsellor at this particular mosque replied to the questions presentedby Assignment: Investigate undercoverassociate as follows: Men are allowed to take four wives, as long as he treatsthem fairly.
Hewent on to say that a wife should never deny her husband sex, not even if hehas beaten her, or has taken another wife.
Inaddition to this, he discourages women from contacting the police:
“Ifyou do call the police that could cause trouble. Do you know why? Because thepolice will take him into custody,” the Imam admonished.
Onlytwo of the ten religious representatives felt women should go to the police. Twoleft the decision up to the woman herself. The remaining six discouraged anysuch action, and said that issues like these should be resolved by the familiesthemselves.
InMalmö, the beating was even made light of. The man our associates spoke to usedhis own arm to demonstrate how hard it is okay to hit. “Never, ever evenconsider going to the police,” was his advice.
Atnine of the Muslim congregations, Uppdrag gransknings associates were informedthat the Koran, in certain circumstances, gives men the right to take severalwives.
Sixof the representatives were taped as they explained how according to the Koran,a Muslim woman is not allowed to deny her husband sex – it is his right, evenagainst her will.
Dr.Mohammad Fazlhashemi, PhD, a professor of History of Ideas at the Department ofHistorical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Umeå University,and a practising Muslim himself, believes that the response expresses a patriarchaltradition more than anything else: “This needs to be laid to rest.Relationships between men and women simply cannot be regulated by this type ofperspective.”
Dr.Fazlhashemi goes on to say that this conservative, ultra-orthodox andpatriarchal interpretation of Islam is being called into question in Sweden and throughout Europe:“I believe that an overwhelming majority does not wish to have this type of Imamin charge.”
How many of Sweden’s 400,000 Muslimsdo you believe agree with an Imam who says that domestic strife is to beaddressed in the family only, that women are never to deny their husbands sex,and that men may take more than one wife?
“It’sdifficult to say, but my immediate response is that very few would be in favourof such degrading treatment,” Dr. Fazlhashemi says in closing.