Sweden: Municipality subsidizes Ramadan campaign

Sweden: Municipality subsidizes Ramadan campaign

The municipality of Helsingborg is giving 30,000 Swedish kroner to the Ibn Rush student association to disseminate information about the Islamic holiday of Ramadan. "Ramadan is part of Swedish culture and we want to tell everybody about it," says imam Othman Al Tawalbeh.

Ramadan has become an integral part of Swedish culture, but information about the Islamic holiday and Muslim customs and practices should be disseminated further, says imam Othman Al Tawalbeh, director of Muslim student association Ibn Rush's southern district.

The organization just launched a campaign and will tour four Swedish cities: Helsingborg, Landskrona, Malmö and Kristianstad. In every city they will set up a tent in the center of town and give out informational material. Spokespersons and an imam will answer questions.

"We hope to contribute to an increased understanding of Islam and to seeing it as just a self-evident part of Sweden as, for example, Christmas," says Othman Al Tawalbeh, who wants the campaign to be seen as an integration project.

"It is ignorance which breeds fear. By talking about Muslims and our customs and traditions, we counteract xenophobia and racism," he says.

Helsingborg municipality granted Ibn Rush 30,000 kroner for the training and reimbursement of twelve 'Ramadan-guides', purchasing of tents, marketing and materials. The money comes from the development committee which wants to contribute to better knowledge and understanding of different ethnic, cultural and religious customs and traditions.

Bengt Avedal, head of the committee: "Our mission includes supporting this type of activity, which is about giving information about cultural and religious practices in society," he says.

Q: Do you see any problem with supporting the dissemination of religious information?

"I can't see that this will have a major influence on our decision if the matter pertains to disseminating a religious message.

Q: Would you reason differently if a Christian student association asked for money to disseminate information about the message of Christmas?

"In principle no. But we may consider it if we receive an application."

Ibn Rush applied for support in other municipalities, but received a negative reply from Malmö and Kristianstad. They are waiting for an answer from Landskrona.

Source: Dagen (Swedish)