The place is the solidarity with Sweden? The international embassies of our democratic ally are below assault. The partitions of its embassy in Baghdad have been breached by lots of of indignant protesters final week. Different Muslim nations issued stinging rebukes in opposition to the Swedes. Morocco summoned Sweden’s consultant for a dressing-down. Jordan reprimanded the Swedish ambassador over what it referred to as Sweden’s ‘racist’ behaviour. Iran stated it is not going to ship an envoy to Sweden. And Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Sweden’s ‘vanity’, saying this depraved nation promotes ‘Islamophobia’ below the guise of ‘freedom of thought’ (not content material with destroying freedom of thought in his personal nation, now he desires to undermine it in Sweden, too).
What did Sweden do to earn such insults? It gave somebody permission to desecrate a duplicate of the Koran. It was one Salwan Momika, an Iraqi immigrant in Sweden, who stated he needed to specific his lower than flattering opinion on Islam’s holy ebook by ripping it up and setting it on fireplace. So final Wednesday, on the Muslim vacation of Eid al-Adha, he and one other particular person gathered exterior the central mosque in Stockholm and did simply that. There’s some confusion over precisely what that they had permission to do. They have been allowed to insult the Koran however not set it aflame, the police are saying. So Mr Momika has now been put below investigation for incitement to hatred. Sweden’s prime minister, nevertheless, says the burning of the Koran was ‘authorized’, if ‘not applicable’.
What is much clearer is the fury within the Muslim world. Quite a few nations have denounced Sweden for being ‘hostile to Islam’. Strikingly, they’ve primarily used the identitarian language of ‘offence’ and ‘Islamophobia’. Sweden is ‘racist’ and ‘irresponsible’, stated the federal government of Iraq. It gave the inexperienced mild to a ‘manifestation of Islamophobia’, stated Jordan. It has harm ‘the sentiments’ of ‘Muslims around the globe’, stated Kuwait, sounding like a woke scholar official who disinvites any controversial speaker who’s ever made a ‘hurtful’ remark about Islam. Egypt’s international ministry let slip the true agenda of those illiberal regimes, nevertheless: it damned Sweden for its ‘crimes of blasphemy’.
Right here, in plain language, was the true cost being made in opposition to Sweden: that it’s a sinful nation, insufficiently respectful of Islam and its tenets. And it deserves punishment for its ‘crimes’, apparently. Turkey, which is already irritating Sweden’s software to hitch NATO over earlier incidents of Koran-burning, has now issued Sweden with an ultimatum. ‘If you don’t present respect to the spiritual beliefs of the Republic of Turkey or Muslims, you’ll not obtain any assist for NATO from us’, stated Erdogan final week. Briefly, to hitch the membership of NATO, Sweden should first take the knee to Islam and forbid its residents from ever making scurrilous utterances about this faith.
That is an insupportable demand to make of a sovereign nation. What we’re witnessing within the Muslim world’s assault on Sweden, and specifically in Erdogan’s gross act of spiritual blackmail, is a form of empire-in-reverse. It’s an empire of harm emotions, the place the historically weaker nations marshall the language of ache, the tradition of grievance, to attempt to pressure their worldview on to a member of the Western membership. To these of us who imagine in nationwide independence, it’s as insupportable for an alliance of emotionally fragile Islamist international locations to dictate to a free nation like Sweden because it was when Western nations as soon as sought to ‘civilise’ the remainder of the world by colonialism and Christianity.
So, once more: the place’s the solidarity? Sweden has been put by the wringer. It has been globally defamed as hateful. It has been instructed that it’ll not progress within the international order till it stymies the free speech of its residents and residents. You’ll be able to both have freedom of speech or the respect of the worldwide group, however not each – that, primarily, is what the petty tyrants of Turkey and past are saying. These of us who assist freedom ought to insist that Sweden expertise no retribution in any respect for granting certainly one of its residents the liberty to demean the Koran.
We are able to argue, after all, over whether or not it’s ‘applicable’ to burn the Koran. However we will certainly agree that having the proper to burn it’s a free-speech matter. I don’t notably prefer it when individuals set fireplace to the Stars and Stripes, being a fan of the American republic. And but, because the ACLU says, the liberty of flag desecration is central to a individuals’s ‘basic proper to specific approval or disapproval of [their] authorities’. Likewise, the liberty of Koran desecration, the liberty of blasphemy itself, is central to individuals’s proper to specific disapproval of Islam. One wonders the place the left is on this dialogue. Absolutely they assist the precise of an immigrant to provide voice to his deeply held convictions, even when that features contempt for the Koran? I do. I imagine immigrants in Sweden and throughout Europe ought to take pleasure in the identical liberty of expression as these of us who have been born right here.
After all, Sweden helped to make this rod for its again. In actual fact, international locations throughout Europe, by institutionalising the profoundly intolerant concept that criticism of Islam is a species of bigotry, left themselves open to assault by this empire of harm emotions. Typically, Muslim nations exploit the unreason and unfreedom of the West itself to drive dwelling their insistence that ‘blasphemy’ in opposition to Islam be curtailed as against the law. From the Danish cartoons controversy of 2005 to the Charlie Hebdo massacre of 2015 to the assorted situations of Koran-burning in Sweden over the previous 12 months, it’s typically Western liberals who first wring their arms over ‘insults’ in opposition to Islam, earlier than Islamist nations chime in a little bit later and say: ‘Sure, that is ungodly. Crush it.’ Therefore why so many Muslim leaders have used the woke language of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘harm emotions’ to reprimand the Swedes – they’re exploiting the West’s personal ideologies to attempt to additional wound the West. Their empire of harm emotions positive factors its energy from our personal yellow-bellied concern of injuring sure individuals’s emotions.
Sweden, for some time, was one of many worst offenders on this entrance. It was terribly reluctant to debate the social issues brought on by an ideology of multiculturalism that inspired ethnic and non secular teams to do their very own ‘equally legitimate’ factor relatively than in search of to combine them into Swedish society. The Swedish elites, and others, refused to be sincere concerning the influence such top-down relativism was having on this as soon as broadly admired social democracy. Whilst gang crime, largely Muslim riots and unheard-of types of violence turned a major problem in Sweden – in 2020 alone there have been 200 explosions and 360 shootings – European observers stated: ‘All the pieces’s effective in Sweden.’ It was a lie. Then Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson tried to interrupt the cowardly deadlock final 12 months when she stated we now have ‘parallel societies in Sweden’ and that integration has been ‘too poor, similtaneously we’ve skilled very substantial ranges of immigration’. Whether or not her intervention was too little, too late, stays to be seen.
And but, proper now, Sweden have to be defended in opposition to the libels and threats of different nations. Turkey, Jordan, Egypt – none has the precise to dictate to Sweden which types of expression it could allow, and which it should outlaw. No nation ought to meddle within the liberties of one other. Down with all empires, together with the brand new therapeutic caliphate that imagines it has the precise to pressure all of us, wherever we dwell, to like Islam.
Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political author and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Present. Subscribe to the podcast right here. His new ebook – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is obtainable to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And discover Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy