May We Publicly, and Safely, Talk About the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden?

On Friday, 17 November, I attended a book launch in Stockholm: The Return of the Caliphate: Reasons and Consequences, by Magnus Norell. The event is recorded on Youtube. (All proceedings were in English).

The launch event was a panel-led seminar discussing the rise of the Islamic State, what effects it has had for the Middle East and for us in the West, and why the military demise of the movement will not mean the demise of the ideological forces behind it.

Lederman StudioI took the Green Line Metro to St.Eriksplan and walked the few, long blocks to the venue. I entered a small doorway to a short but steep passage to a cellar which had long ago been converted into a community theater. Upon descending the worn, concrete steps, I immediately noticed a tall, strong-looking man eyeing me pleasantly and carefully from in front of a curtain which hid the auditorium. I apparently passed muster, despite my looking somewhat peculiar in wearing my Greek fisherman’s cap.

After having my name checked off the attendance list, I began orienting to the surroundings: coat rack, toilet, coffee urn, needing constantly to elbow my way through the tightly-packed and pleasantly noisy crowd. I spotted two more security men, with earpieces, calmly surveying the crowd.

Why should a public discussion of current events, and opinion thereon, require the presence of at least three security guards—in a country which prides itself in the support of free speech for all? Am I being silly in asking this question? If so, why?

The theater auditorium filled with around 75 people. Our host was Johan Westerholm, Editor and publisher of (“Editorial Pages”), the sub-head or motto of which is “Alltid I Opposition” (“Always in Opposition”). The members of the panel and their credentials are listed at the end of this article.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,
Born 28 July 1971,
Saladin Governorate, Iraq. Known as “Caliph Ibrahim” of the Islamic State (IS)

To prepare for the event I asked the Internet about Magnus Norell and found this published report: The Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden. This paper begins by quoting Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Allah is our goal, the Prophet is our leader, the Quran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, and death for Allah is our most exalted wish.

The report was Commissioned by MSB (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency), December 2016. Magnus Norell was editor, with Aje Carlbom, Ph.D. & Pierre Durrani, B.A.). It is a scholarly paper, with its sources cited. Here is a slightly edited (for brevity) version of its conclusion:

The European Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) political-religious work has been built into an “integration model” that is difficult for politicians and others to resist, because it can easily be interpreted in terms of standard integration efforts. It is also difficult to oppose something that on the surface appears as religious rights (of a vulnerable minority).

If one opposes the MB’s communitarian approach, one also runs the risk of being branded a “racist” or an “Islamophobe,” and, given the current state of affairs in Swedish society, such classifications may jeopardize people’s careers.

Basically, Islamists are building a parallel societal structure that competes with the rest of society over Swedish citizens’ value systems. In this way, the MB’s activists constitute a long-term challenge in terms of the country’s social cohesion.

The formation of enclaves of the type advocated by the MB will probably also create problems for Swedish society’s ability to conduct an effective integration policy. Migration from Africa and the Middle East is likely to continue in the coming years, both in terms of family-based immigration and asylum seekers. In this perspective, the MB’s parallel Islamic sector may function as a competing societal structure in relation to established secular society.

Given that the MB’s goal is to increase the number of practicing Muslims in Sweden and Europe, it is highly likely that there will be a “tug of war” between mainstream society and Islamic society under the auspices of the MB concerning what basic norms should apply to Swedish citizens. The MB’s Islamization efforts are likely to cause major political and social tensions in the Swedish nation state.

The paper elicited a strong public reaction:

Debate rages in Sweden over Muslim Brotherhood report

Report on the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden causes debate

‘Racist’ Report Finds Islamists Permeate Sweden, Enjoy Secular Support

In that the other panelists, and Dr. Norell in his Book’s title, refer to the (new) Caliphate, I looked to Wikipedia to learn more:

On 29 June 2014, ISIL announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. Al-Baghdadi was named its caliph, to be known as “Caliph Ibrahim”, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was renamed the Islamic State (IS).

My next search was to find what, if any, connection there may be between the new Caliphate and the Muslim Brotherhood:

Sheikh Hassan Ahmed Abdel Rahman Muhammed al-Banna, 1906-1949, Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Reaffirms ‘Islamic Caliphate’ Ambition. Here is from this newspaper article:

In an effort to reinvigorate the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the group’s leaders — Magdy Shalash — reminded supporters that the organization’s main objective is establishing an “Islamic Caliphate” based on “Sharia” law.

“The Muslim Brotherhood was established for a general overall purpose, namely, the return of the comprehensive entity of the Umma (Muslim community)… the Islamic Caliphate, which is based on many Sharia proofs,” Shalash wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that was translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

While many Islamist apologists attempt to defend the use of terms like “caliphate” or “jihad” as purely religious and peaceful concepts, Shalash does not try to hide the Brotherhood’s true colors

With this as background, I am now ready to read The Return of the Caliphate: Reasons and Consequences. A copy of the book was given, gratis, to those who attended the panel discussion.

Reminder: The whole panel discussion with Q&A, is recorded on Youtube.

The Panel

The author of the book being launched, Dr. Magnus Norell, Adjunct Scholar at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington DC and a Senior Fellow at The European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels.

Dr. David Pollock who served previously as senior advisor for the Broader Middle East at the U.S. State Department, a post he assumed in 2002. In that capacity, he provided policy advice on issues of democracy and reform in the region, with a focus on women’s rights.

Dr. Göran Adamson, Guest Professor at the Center for European Studies, Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, and Senior Lecturer at West University, Sweden. His most recent book is The Trojan Horse – A leftist Critique of Multiculturalism in the West.

Ricki Neuman, freelance journalist, was the moderator.

About Ron Pavellas

Expatriate American living in Sweden with wife. Retired from employment in the USA. Currently focused on blog articles, memoirs, and creative writing.
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5 Responses to May We Publicly, and Safely, Talk About the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden?

  1. Bengt G Nilsson says:

    Hi Ron. Sorry I didn’t recognize you in the crowd. I was there, too. The simple answer to your question about the presence of the security guards is that there was another prominent guest there, namely the Swedish artist Lars Vilks. He was the one who was guarded by the guards. Not Magnus Norell or anyone else in the panel. That doesn’t change the gravity of the situation. It´s a shame that an artist should need protection only because he has created a figure that mocks the prophet Mohammed. It´s an absolute disgrace. So please keep on writing about it, keep asking questions. Why should Islamist organizations be allowed at all in Sweden or anywhere else for that matter?

    Yours – Bengt G Nilsson. Author of “Makida – Queen of Sheba”.


  2. Ron Pavellas says:

    (This is from Jay Michlin, a friend in the USA. He emailed his reaction to me, and allowed me to post it here)

    I found the topic to be “old news”. Yes, the West is on the verge of committing cultural suicide (and maybe even more) through its obsession with multiculturalism and moral relativism. And yes, it’s worse in Europe and particularly in countries like Sweden.

    Yes too, it’s a key aspect behind Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Notwithstanding the turbulence and confusion such events create, and their potential for bad outcomes, in many ways they represent the common sense of the voters seeking to reassert itself against the elitist theories of the intellectual classes.

    My own opinion:

    1. The U.S. has long been an immigration magnet, and we have benefited from it.
    2. We have benefited as a melting pot, where immigrants achieve the benefits of being an American by embracing our culture.
    3. Multiculturalism and White guilt are poisoning this and need to be reined in.
    4. It will be harder in Europe because culture there is based more on blood ties than cultural embrace.
    5. One way or another, we all need to get realistic about the threat of radical Islam or else everyone, including honorable Muslims, will suffer.


  3. Sarah Hollister says:

    Very interesting Ron. Thanks for writing about this topic that can be confusing for many people and here in politically correct Sweden we need to be able to listen to and discuss all sides of the issue.


    • Ron Pavellas says:

      Thanks for the comment, Sarah… If you haven’t taken the ~1.5 hours to view the presentation on Youtube, the panelists were balanced and scholarly in their observations. Each has been, in varying degrees, ‘in the field’ and with direct experience. Some of the audience were interesting, esp. a political refugee from Egypt who has shed Islam and spoke eloquently on his view of how things ‘ought to be.’


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