Sweden’s prime minister met with Muslim leaders at a mosque yesterday. Here’s the story from Jyllands-Posten, translated by CG:
Reinfeldt: Freedom of speech over politics
The prime minister of Sweden says he regrets that Muslims feel insulted by the drawings of Muhammed. He stresses that freedom of speech is “unalienable”
The prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeld, was sorry if Muslims feel that they have been insulted by the drawing, which depicts Muhammed as a dog. But Reinfeld at the same time stressed that freedom of speech is an “unalienable” right in Sweden.
“I regret if prople feel have been insulted or feel hurt. Personally I would never on purpose act in a way which other religions could see as provocative or insulting,” Reinfeld said in a statement.
His statement came after he had met with Muslim organizations in Sweden because of a drawing by the Swedish artist Lars Vilks in the paper Nerikes Allehanda August 18.
Vilks depicted Mohammed’s head on the body of a dog in the newspaper.
Reinfeldt also stressed the “mutual respect and understanding” in Swedish society.
“Sweden is a country where people of different faiths can live together side by side,” he said, adding: “The willingness to provoke should not overtake the willingness for dialogue.”
Tuesday’s meeting, which lasted more than an hour at Stockholm mosque, was called by Reinfeldt, his spokesman Oscar Hållén told AFP.
The details of the meeting were not disclosed but Hållén said the tone was “constructive”. Among those attending the talks were representatives of the umbrella organization Swedish Muslim Council.
Keep in mind that the Swedish Muslim Council (Sveriges Muslimska Förbund) is led by Mahmoud Aldebe, who has sued to have Nerikes Allehanda charged with hets mot folkgrupp. As Carpenter reported last week:
He is notorious for justifying honor-killings of Kurdish girls and proposing Shari’a via an open letter to the Swedish government in April 2006.
If this is the man that the prime minister has chosen to sup with, Mr. Reinfeldt would be well advised to use a long spoon.
Correction: Carpenter tells me that the “Swedish Muslim Council”, led by Helena Benaouda, is separate and distinct from the “Swedish Muslim Association” (Sveriges Muslimska Förbund), which is led by Mahmoud Aldebe.
I admit to profound confusion, and a notable ignorance of the Swedish language.
Hat tips: For the story in The Local, Paul; for the Aldebe photo, LN.
For previous posts on Lars Vilks and the Roundabout Dogs, see the Modoggie Archives.