Göthenborg: Mosque financed by Saudis

The Sweden Muslim Association in Gothenburg had to fight for 15 years to get a mosque.  The plans have been ready for a long time.  Now the money is coming from Saudi Arabia.  Critics think the association is getting itself into a dependency situation.

Dressed in suits and ties, a delegation of four from the Saudi Finance Department enters the Muslim school Römosseskolan's hall in Angered outside Gothenburg.  They have come to write up a contract with the Swedish Muslim Association.

"We want Muslims to have an official place to exercise their religious actions in Gothenburg.  We don't want them to be in out of the way places," says Saleh al-Rechadi, director of the Saudi Finance Department.

"It feels incredibly good since we have waited for about 20 years now," says Bachar Gahnom, who has pushed for building the mosque.

The mosque at Hisingen will be the first in Sweden to be wholly financed by another state.  Critics think that the Saudi government is buying influence over Gothenburg's Muslims and that the association is now choosing to land itself in a dependence situation.

The Saudi interpretation of Islam is considered severed and conservative.

But according to the association the Saudis have not demanded administration posts or a say in who will hold the important position of imam.  The Saudis have, however, opinions on how the mosque shall be run.

"It isn't an absurd demand that the mosque will serve both Muslims and non-Muslims.  This mosque will be a sort of official front for the Muslims in Gothenburg," says Bachar Gahnom.

Åke Sander, who works at Gothenburg University followed up the issue and he thinks that there's a schism between Gothenburg's Muslims.  Among others the liberal and feminist Muslims are very skeptic about the Saudi money.

He says that many think that if the money comes only from them and not from anybody else, it will give them influence, he says.

Source: Swedish Radio (Swedish), h/t FOMI (Swedish)

6 comments:

a Duoist said...

From the land which strictly forbids the construction of any religious structure by any other religion, the Wahhabi-Saudis continue to finance the construction of Wahhabi mosques in other countries and cultures.

The term which describes this phenonemon best: because of its one-sided expansionism, Wahhibism is "religious imperialism." Whoever is chosen to be the new mosque's imam, he'll be Wahhabi, one of the most virulent puritanical forms of political Islam.

Anonymous said...

That story reminds me of this mosque in Malmö that refused to be bought by Saudi money years ago

Aftonbladet: "Terrorshejk vill ta över svensk moské" 2006-02-06
http://www.aftonbladet.se/vss/nyheter/story/0,2789,773995,00.html

and that was burnt down for the second time (2003 + 2005)

IslamOnline.net: "Mosque In Swedish Southern City Set On Fire" September 19, 2005
http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2005-09/19/article07.shtml

First attack was said to be caused by internal strife... and the next agressors left a star of David.

Esther said...

Hi anonymous,

It is not clear the agressors left the star of david. According to reports I found, it was painted a day earlier.

Specific anti-Semitic incidents include the throwing of feces at the window of a synagogue in Malmo in October 2002, and an attempted arson at the purification room of the Jewish cemetery in Malmo in April. Hours before this incident, the Malmo mosque was burnt to the ground; a Star of David was painted on a mosque wall. Police found no evidence of a connection between the attacks. (US State Department)

Other sources I've found say the fire was an inside job and that investigators were threatened to stay away.

Anonymous said...

Hi Esther,
what an interesting "coincidence".
Thanks for the info!
Maria

Ahmed said...

As a practicing Muslim, I do not like foregin influence or dependence; especially of Saudi government. Their beliefs are extreme and do not represent main stream Muslims. Problem is that they have money and they are trying to export their views using their financial strength.

I also think Gothenburg officials should not have taken 15 years to give approval. This only hardens average Muslim and makes them feel as if they can not become Swedes. There is so much in common if one looks at average lives like working hard for better living conditions, educating their children, various freedoms in the society, etc. Yet we tend to focus on the negative from other parts of the world which have no impact on our daily lives.

BTW...I am in Gothenburg on a business trip from the US. Our mosque is run by the community and we don't allow radical speaker. We also don't allow speaker with political agenda related to our countries origin.

hiphopopotamus said...

The Swedish authorities are creating this situation by dragging their heels on mosque construction projects. By opposing their construction (by denying financing), they're allowing outside parties a way into these Muslim communities. I think the Swedes should rethink this policy. Also -- to allow foreign governments to select and pay the salaries of domestic imams is a terrible policy (wherever it exists). More national resources for Muslims!