Since the onset of the so-called global war on terrorism, Muslims around the world have been attacked by Western media outlets and magazines that tend to “securitize” Islam and Islamic worship. Instead of promoting democracy and human rights, the so-called global war on terror has prompted a plethora of consequences, especially in Muslim communities.
Equally concerning, is the rise of Islamophobia in democratic countries such as Sweden. Last week, Facebook posts attacking Swedish authorities went viral after a flurry of Muslim activists said that the government is deeply involved in the kidnap of Muslim children. The Swedish Psychological Defense Agency, which was established to counter misinformation, said the allegations could be traced to an Arabic-language site whose creator expressed support for the Islamic State.
Again, instead of tackling the roots of the problem, Western authorities call Muslim activists “traitors” and “terrorists”. The root of the problem could be traced back to the American propaganda machine that has been fueling religious bigotry and xenophobic discourse. Children should be protected under national and international laws. The Swedish authorities have national and international obligations toward protecting the very basic rights of Muslim children.
Allegations include that after being taken from their families, the children are placed in Christian foster households where they become “secularized” or “assimilated” by, for instance, being fed pork and consuming alcohol. Some have even alleged that the children were being detained by social services, or placed with pedophiles, TRT reports
The official Twitter page of the Swedish Foreign Ministry says: A disinformation campaign is currently underway on various social media – both in Sweden and abroad – alleging that Swedish social services kidnap Muslim children. This information is wrong. It is seriously misleading and aims to create tensions and spread mistrust.
According to the Swedish Psychological Defense Agency, many of the viral videos that have led to an escalation in kidnapping allegations are old videos that have been given in a misleading context to “polarize” people.
“A very aggressive rumor campaign is currently underway on various social media … This information is, of course, seriously misleading and the sole aim is to create tensions and spread mistrust,” the Swedish Consulate General in Türkiye’s Istanbul also said in a statement.
However, evidence has proved the exact opposite. These children are treated inhumanely and they are denied their very basic religious rights. This incident reminds me of how America in the 19th century forced native Americans to attend boarding schools, whereby they were obliged to follow specific religious teachings and cultural traditions. This does not differ much from the Nazi’s teachings and practices, whereby a certain race was treated as superior to other races. Sweden is known for being a socially democratic country that has some respect for individual rights, but the latest incident exposes global double standards that Western democracies adopt.
Some of the claims, published in English, said the children are placed with non-Muslim foster families and forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. Mikael Tofvesson, the agency’s operative head, told Swedish radio that the aim of the campaign was “to create a negative image of Sweden.”
The minister for migration and integration, Anders Ygeman, told broadcaster TV4 that “lies must be with facts.” Ygeman said Muslims and imams in Sweden had distanced themselves from “this propaganda and disinformation”
Indeed, these governmental claims are heavily contested by other Muslim families. In short, Swedish practices are outcomes of a prolonged islamophobic discourse that dominated media outlets post 9/11. Indeed, such racist practices are not only disingenuous but also prompt far-right extremism, which at the end of the day increases the rate of terrorism. It additionally fuels the so-called clash of civilizations that they claim is the reason behind fundamentalist terrorism. We can’t blame Western citizens for their Islamophobic ideologies because they would not have been there without the presence of the so-called war on Islamic fundamentalism.