Sweden: Muslim leader could get to parliament

Sweden: Muslim leader could get to parliament

Via Swedish journalist Per Gudmundson's Blog. Gudmundson also links to an interview Waberi gave to the RFSU (Association for Sexuality Education) in 2006. I translate the parts about polygamy below, though Waberi does talk about other Sharia issues as well.

Abdirisak Waberi is not the only conservative Muslim who's a Moderate Party politician. See also Sweden: The best Muslim state.


One of the leaders of Sweden's most influential Muslim associations might get into parliament in the next elections. Abdirisak Waberi (Moderates), can expect to have his candidacy examined with a microscope.

Principal and Gothenburg resident Abdirisak Waberi wants to build bridges between different parts of society. He's fifth on the Moderate Party list and has good chances of getting into parliament.

"I want to primarily work on exclusion. Youth who are slipping, good care for citizens, and environmental issues," he says.

He thinks it's a positive thing that more Swedes of non-Nordic background get on the party's list. Abdirisak Waberi himself is a conservative Muslims who also represents the Islamic Association, which runs the Stockholm mosque. In a recent SVT documentary he and his association were identified as Islamists. Abdirisak Waberi thinks that it was an issue of smearing Islamic organizations. He doesn't call himself an Islamist.

Later he wrote in a mail to SvD: "It's natural for me as a believing Muslims to try and live by the Koran in the same way that it's natural for a Christian to try and live by the Bible." At the same time he stresses that "supports equality between the sexes. Swedish law is based on the principle that even homosexuals should have the same freedoms and rights as others, and I think that's good." Abdirisak Waberi says he agrees with the foundations of Swedish family law, which prohibits polygamy.

"I stand for the political agenda of the new Moderates," he stresses.

But Abdirisak Waberi's candidacy puts the spotlight on the debate about Islam in Sweden. Aje Carlbom, phd of social anthropology, thinks that the Islamic Association is part of the Islamic movement which wants it's own public space, with its own schools, kindergartens and so on. This parallel structure is at odds with the party's integration policy.

"It doesn't annul segregation. It strengthens it. But the Islamists want segregation. They believe that it protects Muslim children."

To be a candidate for a political party is one way to give the movement increasing influence, thinks Aje Carlbom, though he points out that he doesn't have any idea as to what Abdirisak Waberi stands for as an individual.

Pernilla Ouis, phd of human ecology, who has insights into Muslim Sweden, doesn't want to speak about Abdirisak Waberi either. But she thinks that there are both advantages and disadvantages with having people she sees as Islamists engaging in a poltiical party.

"They represent a part of society in a democracy. I would rather they engage in the Moderates than that they start an Islamic party," she explains.

But Pernilla Ouis doesn't think it's not just practicing Muslims who are forced to wrestle with issues where politics and religion collide. The same applies also to Bible-literalist Christian politicians.

Mehmet Kaplan, a parliament member for the Greens, is a Muslim. He was president of Sweden's Young Muslims and has good insights into the Swedish Association.

"So far during my years I've seen no organizational signs that they are attempting to do any type of Islamizaton."

On the contrary, says Mehmet Kaplan, there have been some individuals in the organizations with more extreme views.

Jan Hjärpe, religion historian and professor emeritus, thinks that those who speak of Swedish Islamism are completely wrong. There are a few individuals, smaller groups in Sweden which can be called Islamist, that is that they have a political agenda where religion is state policy and the aim is an Islamic state.

"But to characterize the large Swedish organizations this way, that's unlikely. I think this is quite undramatic."

But Jan Hjärpe has already gotten reactions to Abdirisak Waberi's placement on the Moderates list.

"The campaign to put him under suspicion is part of the Sweden Democrats' tactics. There are less politely worded repudiations so to speak."

Source: SvD (Swedish)

The RFSU interview, headlined 'with the Koran in the classroom', followed a proposal to ban new religious schools. The RFSU interviewed Waberi as principal of the Muslim Römosseskolan in the Gothenburg suburb of Angered.


Q: You teach, among other things, that men according to the Koran can have several wives?

A: Yes, one can have four wives

Q: But you follow the basic values for Swedish schools?

A: what are the basic values?

[The journalist shows him a summary from the National Educational Agency, which lists the values that the schools are expected to teach: the inviolability of human life, individual freedom and integrity, all people are equal, equality between men and women, as well as solidarity with the weak and vulnerable.]

A: We have no problems with the basic values, Abdirisak Waberi says after he reads it through


Q: What do you think about the Muslim tradition that gives men the possibility to have four wives?

A: My aim is to raise ethics. If man is married to a woman, he should stick to her. Infidelity causes so much pain. If you have four wives, you should be able to treat all of them equally. You should be able to give all of them as much love and you should be able to support four women.

Q: What can't women marry four men?

A: God has decided so and God knows what is best for people. Man is able to give love to four women, but I don't think that women have the love that is needed to be with four men. Furthermore - if women is with four men, she doesn't know who's the father of the children. Only a DNA-test can give the answer.

Q: Why not do a DNA-test as we can in our modern society?

A: We can't change the Koran because we've got DNA-tests. We can't change Astrid Lindgren's books because she's died either.


Q: You call it transmission of knowledge about Islam. Don't you think that the strictly believing students perceive their education rather as a guiding principle on how people should live - and therefore end up outside the values of Swedish society?

A: No. No father has several wives here in Sweden, and just a few fathers have had several wives at the same time. The children see, moreover, working Muslim women in front of the classroom. And we have more female than male teachers here in the school. The risk is greater that the children end up outside society because they won't be able to support themselves in the future in Sweden.

"According to the Koran, women get to do what they want with their salary. But do you think they do that today?" continues Abdirisak Waberi and points out the window at the white apartment blocks in Gårdsten (Angered)

Q: So why keep to something that isn't relevant at all any longer?

A: We can't wipe out the Koran. It may be that reality will seem otherwise, in another place, in the future.

Source: RFSU (Swedish)

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