Monday, May 09, 2005

Cries and Whispers

Bizarre news from Sweden. (Hat tip: M.S.) A preacher in Stockholm is under police protection after being threatened with death for calling the prophet Mohammed a pedophile. The newspaper Aftenposten reports:

Celebrity Pentecostal preacher Runar Søgaard is under protection by Swedish police after receiving death threats. A high-profile sermon where Sögaard called the prophet Mohammed "a confused pedophile" has triggered fears of religious war. ... "Even if I see Runar while he has major police protection I will shoot him to death," a radical Islamist told Swedish newspaper Expressen. Persons connected to the Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam claim to have received a fatwa, a decree from a Muslim religious leader, to kill Søgaard.

Swedish experts claim that Søgaard is at fault.

Islam expert Jan Hjärpe at the University of Lund told Expressen that such an assassination is a real risk, and he wondered if conflict was the motive for the sermon. ... "It was a statement from an odd man in an odd sect but the effect is stronger antagonism between different groups. It becomes a pure religious polemic and is extremely unpleasant," Hjärpe told the newspaper. Hjärpe saw the incident as a type of beginning of a religious war in Sweden. "It (Sögaard's sermon) has power and influence. It seems to have been Runar's intention to provoke and promote antagonism," Hjärpe said.

Blogger The Fjordman takes a different view. He regard's the Søgaard incident as part of a wider breakdown in the civility between Muslim immigrants and native Swedes. He paints a bleak picture.

Rock throwing and attacks against buses and trains are increasing problems in some suburbs. In Malmö the bus lines in the area of Rosengård have been cancelled. In Stockholm, the authorities went even further and stopped both the bus traffic in the Tensta suburb and the train to Nynäshamn. Head of the bus company in the city of Uppsala, Claes-Göran Alm, is considering doing the same, as the harassment is costing too much money and is putting their employees at risk. Benny Persson is selling window glass in the areas south of Stockholm. According to him, they sometimes have to jump into the car and leave the spot, as they are met with the harassment that some of the bus companies in the suburbs are experiencing: Stone throwing and threats. The same thing is reported from Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city. The company Hemglass are now attempting to run double crews in their cars to face the problems, but they still have had to completely abandon an area outside Södertälje. If you get stuck in an elevator outside Stockholm, you risk staying there for a long time. The repair personnel now demand security guards present when they arrive, since several of their employees have been physically attacked. The most serious problem, however, is the delay of ambulances and the fire department. According to the Emergency Central, attacks against them have become commonplace in the cities. Every Saturday, at least five to ten times emergency personnel are asking for police escort to be able to do their job.

Quoting a New York academic now living in Sweden, The Fjordman believes part of the problem is that Swedish public figures have been studiously avoiding noticing the elephant in the living room. "No debate about immigration polices is possible, the subject is simply avoided. Sweden has such a close connection between the various powerful groups, politicians, journalists, etc. The political class is closed, isolated."

These are powerful accusations. Part of the challenge facing the new Internet media is to find a robust method for collaterally confirming such reports, which are sparsely covered in the regular media. The Fjordman's post is liberally sprinkled with links (many of which are unfortunately, for me at least, in Swedish) so there is little doubt that many of the individual incidents he refers to are true. So it's a good start. But in order to really gauge the magnitude and severity of the situation there is really a need for more investigative blogging. It's a fair bet that the MSM, which still provides the bulk of primary reporting, has gaps in its coverage and there are some -- such as this one -- which are too important to miss.