Condemnation from Sweden's PM Over Far-Right's Mosque Removal Proposal
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson issued a sharp rebuke against the head of the far-right party, which extends support to his government, following a controversial call for the demolition of certain mosques.
Jimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats (SD), advocated for the seizure and destruction of mosques during his annual party conference on Saturday. He asserted the need to dismantle places propagating anti-democratic, anti-Swedish, homophobic, anti-Semitic, or misleading information.
Expressing strong disapproval, Kristersson, whose coalition government doesn’t include SD but relies on their support, criticized Akesson’s remarks as “disrespectful” and “misrepresenting Sweden’s international stance.”
“This misrepresents what Sweden stands for internationally,” Kristersson conveyed to broadcaster SVT, highlighting his dissent over the polarizing rhetoric.
Amid the uproar sparked by Akesson’s speech, Kristersson reiterated Sweden’s commitment to religious freedom and constitutional rights. “In Sweden, we do not demolish places of worship,” he emphasized in a statement on social media, emphasizing the country’s commitment to combating extremism within the framework of democratic values and the rule of law.
Former Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson called upon Kristersson to remove all SD officials operating at the cabinet offices in Stockholm, expressing concerns over the detrimental impact on Sweden’s image, its NATO application, and increasing domestic polarization.
Sweden’s efforts toward NATO membership require ratification from Hungary and Turkey. Recent tensions stemming from incidents, including Quran desecrations earlier this year, have strained relations with Middle Eastern countries. In response to these incidents, multiple Middle Eastern nations summoned Swedish diplomats and, in July, protests outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad led to unrest and fires within the compound.
Furthermore, Sweden faced a disinformation campaign last year, refuting false claims of its social services “kidnapping Muslim children” and placing them in Christian homes, necessitating public denials from the authorities.
The ongoing fallout from Akesson’s remarks poses diplomatic challenges for Sweden, prompting introspection on domestic unity and international relations amid escalating tensions.