Insane Values and the Arabic Language in Malmö

Recent events have changed the tenor of the public debate in Sweden. By the standards of Denmark, the UK, or Italy, the second of the two articles posted below would be unremarkable, tame, and even a little insipid — pulling its punches where Islam is concerned, and hewing too closely to the politically correct consensus.

But for Sweden it is remarkable and daring.

The first article is presented by way of background for the situation in Malmö. Both were translated by our Swedish correspondent CB, who included this introduction in the email that accompanied his translations:

I’ve translated two articles about Malmö and tensions with the Muslims who live there. One is about Arabic as a third language at Malmö high schools, and the other is a debate article about the report/survey on Islamism in Rosengård, written of one of the Islamic teachers at Malmö college. It’s a interesting article — full of the usual pandering to Islam but also some important questions for Islamists.

The article about Arabic as a high school subject is pretty straightforward. One can take issue with the notion of learning the mother language as a tool for a better understanding of other subjects. But this is high school, and there is a choice in third language. Worth noting is the passage stating that Arabic is by far the largest language other than Swedish in Malmö.

The article about the Rosengård survey is interesting in several ways.

First, one can notice how much lecturers at colleges and universities in the West have to let go of the predominantly Marxist explanation of the world in terms of injustices and revolutionary violence. Why do they have such a hard time noticing the overrepresentation of Islamists among those acting in a violent way according to their values? There are plenty of poor and downtrodden people who stay away from violence as a means of change. I think it’s a welcome improvement when a lecturer writes that Islamists are struggling against perceived injustices and imperialism.

We should have no problem with the legitimate struggle of poor people. But not with open-ended warfare against those with other beliefs and ideologies different from their own. Lets’ put the blame were blame is due. And in the Middle East that should fall to a large extent on its own governments and the lack of democracy and freedoms created by Islamic culture.

Has the West acted unfairly in the Middle East? Certainly, on many occasions. But in the West there should be a healthy reminder about Arabic imperialism and the destruction of societies that would have been quite different if they had had another history for the past 1400 years.

In my mind, this perception of conflicts seen through the Islamic prism is potent. But an idea of an imposed marginalization is just to much.

Muslims may have problems in the West, but they also have more freedoms and opportunities here than any Islamic society will ever grant them. Muslims must themselves work to be part of our societies, and that on an indefinite basis and on our terms and not on Sharia terms. The great weakness in the Ouis article lies in not making the connection between Islam and modern Islamists in teachings and practice. It’s welcome, however, that she asks for straight talk and hard questions and no apologies for harsh criticism of Islamism.

She even calls Mohammed Omar’s values insane. That is an encouraging change!

CB’s first translation from Sydsvenskan is about the introduction of Arabic language courses in the schools:
– – – – – – – –

Arabic introduced as third language

Arabic is introduced as a modern language in high school. That means that it’s optional for students to choose Arabic instead of French, Spanish or another third language.

MALMÖ. The same opportunities already exist for Russian, Chinese and Japanese, besides the regular European languages.

Arabic is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world and by far the most widely-spoken mother-tongue in Malmö. In spite of this, it has not been included among the eight large languages in the high school curriculum before.

School politician Agneta Eriksson (S) [Social Democrats] believes the reason for that is to be found in lack of teachers with formal competence. She also believes that the Asiatic languages have been favorably treated for business reasons. There are many Swedish companies that have contacts in China.

“But we also have many companies with enterprises in the Arabic speaking countries,” she says.

Malmö’s head of education, Matz Nilsson, explains that the opportunities to offer Arabic have grown with a new co-operation between the high schools. Beginning this autumn Borgarskolan, S:t Petri, S:t Pauli and Latinskolan will co-ordinate their schedules of modern languages to give students greater opportunities to choose.

Latinskolan has already tried out Arabic. But it failed because the course didn’t get attract enough students.

“We are now four schools and it’s enough with five students for us to start a course,” says Latinskolan’s headmaster Kurt Westlund.

Students from other high schools are also welcome, Provide that it’s possible to work out the details with the school’s curriculum.

It’s possible to arrange more courses if the interest is large enough.

Arabic as a modern language increases the opportunities for students who already have it as their mother tongue. They will be able to write and master the language in the correct way; which is believed to be helpful in other courses. As of 2010 languages will count as extra merit when applying to universities [i.e. colleges/universities, our system is slightly different than in the US].

Both universities and high schools notice an increasing interest in foreign languages among youth with no personal connection to any other country than Sweden.

As an example Kurt Westlund talks about the students learning Japanese at Latinskolan, a language for a country that no one has any ties to.


All courses in modern languages during high school award 100 points. That equals about 80 hours of study during one year in school. Students have a mandatory choice of one language besides Swedish and English. Arabic will be one alternative besides German, French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Russian, Chinese and Japanese. They can also choose Arabic or another language as a extra choice besides the mandatory third language. The course starting this autumn at Latinskolan is primarily intended for students in first grade, but older students may also apply.

Also from Sydsvenskan, an article about Rosengård:

Islamists, what do you want?

Pernilla Ouis read the report about Rosengård and requests a willingness to listen first and argue later.

The recently published report about violence accompanying Islamic growth in Malmö has already received — and rightly so — harsh criticism. It’s unscientific in many regards: Methodologically unsound because the group in question is not interviewed, references are missing, and the source material has been destroyed. On top of that the report has sloppy language with sweeping, imprecise wording and a total lack of theory and analysis. I wouldn’t pass the study as a student exam either [here she’s referring to other debate articles in Syd Svenska Dagbladet]. Unfortunately, due to sloppy research, they have missed an opportunity to focus on an urgent problem.

It’s also easy to agree with the criticism that the report contributes to generalizations about, stigmatization, and demonization of Rosengård and its inhabitants. But I will not take the easy route, but try to evaluate the report’s conclusions seriously. In spite of it all, the report might have something important to tell about Islamic extremism based on 30 qualitative interviews.

In my view there are two levels of analysis that have to be made regarding Islamism. One is the struggle that many Muslims are undertaking against perceived Western political and cultural imperialism, but also for social and economic justice. Many of us can sympathize with their struggle. This level about understanding marginalization imposed on Muslims, whether it concerns cockroaches and dense living space in Rosengård or the sufferings of the Gaza population during Israel’s attacks.

The second level is about analyzing the ideological content of Islamism and its consequences in oppression, the order of gender hierarchy [the word she’s using is a combination-word; gender power hierarchy] and acts of violence. I’m requesting a critical debate about Islamists’ view of “the other”. What is their view of those not sharing their religious interpretation, homosexuals, and “liberated” women? What is their view of democracy and violence? I want to hear the message of the Islamists in the public debate. What do you want, brothers and sisters?

The research report now presented should have focused on these problematic, black and white values. They should have hired interpreters with the ability to document the Friday sermons in the basement mosques, translated web pages and other material. The ideology — not the people — should first receive criticism and be brought to light. Only after that should there be a study of how these values are put to practice in congregations, associations and Muslim schools [i.e. free schools, as opposed to public schools].

Society should regard this form of extremism in the same manner as it does other extremist groups. Right-wing extremism is not excused by their followers being socially and economically marginalized. We must understand the mechanisms of extremism and at the same time forcefully condemn its views and applications.

For anybody interested in understanding and studying how radical Islamism is growing in a single individual, this is a rare opportunity. The poet Mohamed Omar’s radicalization is publicly underway at present. Unfortunately I believe his debate this past Wednesday in Aktuellt with terror expert Magnus Ranstorp, who wrote the report, may have been his last media appearance. Omar has now crossed the limit of what the establishment can accept in a public debate. His voice will disappear down in the basement mosques.

It’s a pity, because we thereby lose the opportunity to criticize his totally insane values.

Pernilla Ouis, assisting lecturer and researcher at Malmö College/University

4 thoughts on “Insane Values and the Arabic Language in Malmö

  1. I submitted it earlier so it’ll probably show up in the news feed for tonight, but this was a similar article I read today:

    Outrage over language ban proposal

    — apparently all this time immigrant kids have had the opportunity to study maths in whatever their native language is – not a particularly language-intensive subject once you have the basics down – which is why it would seem like a natural integration area to me.

    – one interesting quote from the article:

    “According to 2007 statistics from the National Education Agency (Skolverket), more than 18,000 elementary school students in Sweden receive lessons in Arabic, more than any other foreign language. Second most common is Spanish, with 5,000 students being taught, followed by Albanian, Bosnian, Somali and Persian.

    Roughly 3,900 school children receive lessons in English, the seventh most common language represented in the agency’s statistics.”

    Interesting breakdown.

  2. On internet you may find many articles explaining why the Standard Arabic does not match the required qualities to teach sciences and fails in producing propre translations and modern literature.

    On this there is a beautiful clip by the Syrian poet Adonis on memri. Cela va de soi he lives in Paris.

    It is not only islam, the Arabic makes it double difficult.

    Persian, Urdu, Turkish underwent the necessary modernization, Standard Arabic did not! And Standard Arabic does not make you a good student of Classical Arabic either.

    The only solution seems to be splitting Arabic on regional basis and give it a natural flow based on Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian etc. natural tendencies.

    Compare English – just like Urdu – freely adopting vocabulary from many sources, thus keeping some flexible touch with reality on various continents.

    Never think Arabic can work like Spanish, Russian etc. It is amazing…

  3. Blog comment by a culture enrichter:
    “Malmoe is located in the south of Sweden near Denmark, in which many are arabs and moslems, hopefully it will turn into an arab city shortly”

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