In public communications, religious leaders in Swedish mosques are very careful to maintain that men and women have equal standing. SVT´s undercover recording paint a different picture: Women are urged to practice total submission.
religious congregation in Sweden
that receives state funding is also expected to “uphold and reinforce the basic
values of Swedish society”.
other things, this involves promoting equal rights between the sexes, and that
congregations are to promote efforts to counteract discrimination, violence and
granskning (Assignment Investigate),
the investigative current affairs program of Swedish television (SVT) , went
undercover with hidden camera to mosques around the country to find out what
the real situation was. Equipped with a hidden camera and a list of four
identical questions, our associates sought out Sweden’s most influential mosques
and their representatives.
Half of these mosques receive state funding, while
the others are supported by municipal funds. Seven mosques were visited in
person, while three more congregations were consulted over the phone.
mission was to establish what guidance was given to women in the following four
areas: May a man take more than one wife? Does a woman have the right to deny
her husband sex? Are husbands permitted to beat their wives? And if she is
beaten, may she contact the police?
answers they received, which were also recorded, reveal that there is a huge
discrepancy between the official picture and the actual values Muslim
congregations communicate when they are unaware of the fact that they are being
of Sweden’s most respected,
and well-frequented, mosques is located at the heart of Stockholm, at Medborgarplatsen. The
government turns to the religious leaders there as being representative of the
Muslim community in Sweden.
As recently as February, Minister for Public Administration, Stefan Attefall,
attended a Friday prayer service there.
Family Counsellor at this particular mosque replied to the questions presented
by Assignment: Investigate undercover
associate as follows: Men are allowed to take four wives, as long as he treats
went on to say that a wife should never deny her husband sex, not even if he
has beaten her, or has taken another wife.
addition to this, he discourages women from contacting the police:
you do call the police that could cause trouble. Do you know why? Because the
police will take him into custody,” the Imam admonished.
two of the ten religious representatives felt women should go to the police. Two
left the decision up to the woman herself. The remaining six discouraged any
such action, and said that issues like these should be resolved by the families
Malmö, the beating was even made light of. The man our associates spoke to used
his own arm to demonstrate how hard it is okay to hit. “Never, ever even
consider going to the police,” was his advice.
nine of the Muslim congregations, Uppdrag gransknings associates were informed
that the Koran, in certain circumstances, gives men the right to take several
of 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, even
against her will.
Mohammad Fazlhashemi, PhD, a professor of History of Ideas at the Department of
Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Umeå University,
and a practising Muslim himself, believes that the response expresses a patriarchal
tradition more than anything else: “This needs to be laid to rest.
Relationships between men and women simply cannot be regulated by this type of
Fazlhashemi goes on to say that this conservative, ultra-orthodox and
patriarchal 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 Imam
How many of Sweden’s 400,000 Muslims
do you believe agree with an Imam who says that domestic strife is to be
addressed in the family only, that women are never to deny their husbands sex,
and that men may take more than one wife?
difficult to say, but my immediate response is that very few would be in favour
of such degrading treatment,” Dr. Fazlhashemi says in closing.