Sweden has now suffered its first major terrorist attack in its capital Stockholm, with four killed and many injured. A suspect for the terror attack, an Uzbek citizen by the name of Rakhmat Akilov has been arrested. He has confessed that he is the one who carried out the terror attack on orders from ISIS. The terrorists of ISIS belong to an ideology that repeatedly has attacked the democratic world recently including Orlando, Paris, Brussels, London, Jerusalem and now Stockholm. I refer to radical Islamism.
Violent Islamism is represented not only by ISIS that has attacked democratic Europe but also by terror organizations like Hamas that want to wipe Israel from the map, because it’s a Jewish state and a democracy. Unfortunately terrorism is often relativized by politicians and journalists. It is important that we wake up realizing that we must have zero tolerance for all terrorists. We must also understand that people involved in Islamist terrorism do not necessarily have a membership in a terrorist organization, they may only sympathize with its ideology and its hatred of democracy. On the other hand, however, just because Islamist terrorists have declared war on us we mustn’t generalize about our Muslim citizens and apply a broad brush approach to them. We who stand up for the values of democracy today against the violent Islamism come from all kinds of religious and non-religious backgrounds, also Muslim.
We mustn’t allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorists in a way that we avoid living our lives. No, we must continue to do everything that angers the terrorists and we must do it with all our might. What they cannot abide is our lifestyle, our democracy, that we are a country that is characterized by equality and secularism, and that we are a country open to minorities, like LGBT-people who are persecuted outside the Western world. What probably also annoys them is that Sweden supports efforts against terrorists like ISIS.
Let us never change who we are, what we do and what we stand for to avoid terrorism.We should not stop living.
But on the other hand, we need to change our view on security so that it will be more difficult to succeed in attacking us and instilling fear among us. We must have better security arrangements around the metro, central stations, airports, the parliament, shopping centers, public holidays and major events, all of which are important terror targets for terrorists. Extensive security arrangements are a part of the everyday life in countries like Israel that for decades lived with the threat of terrorism. We must now learn from the State of Israel that has more experience on how to protect her citizens from terrorist attacks. Because the latest terrorist attack in Stockholm will probably not be the last in the Swedish capital.
We also need to understand that behind the terrorist attacks, there are ideological motives not related to socioeconomic factors. The ideological motives, we must now dare to find out and learn about.
Another important discussion we need to have in Sweden is whether we should criminalize membership in terrorist organizations and expressions of sympathy with such organizations. Should we allow the members and sympathizers of ISIS, Hamas, PFLP, Hezbollah, al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations to spread hatred and extremism in Sweden? Our politicians must now act against everything and everyone promoting terrorism and violent extremism. Today they do not.
Associations that teach children that violent extremism is a tool to achieve political goals, Swedish politicians should crack down on with full political force. Believe it or not, such associations unfortunately exists in Sweden. For over a year now I’ve been trying to get Swedish politicians and the media to talk about the violent extremism that exists in Sweden in certain Palestinian and Islamist associations that spread hatred against Jews and Israelis. Subjected to the violent extremism are those children of migrants in Sweden who have been fed this terrorist propaganda.
Civil society organizations teach young children that they should initiate violence in order to protect the Al Aqsa-mosque and die in terror activities against Israel. This propaganda has been spread on the municipal school premises in Malmö and also in municipalities like Åmal where violence-promoting textbooks have been distributed to children. The majority of politicians, I tried to talk to about it have not wanted to listen and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, which has been responsible for the fight against violent extremism offers no solution to the issue.
Not fighting all violent extremism in Swedish society, turning a blind eye to certain manifestations of it, will lead to the normalization of violence as an instrument to achieve political and ideological goals.
It’s time for Sweden to wake up and face the reality. All terrorism and violent extremism must be condemned, fought and never relativized.That is the turning point, where we, the Swedish people, must realize and admit that we find ourselves today.