Why aren’t we talking about the Islamist uprising in Sweden?

Why aren’t we talking about the Islamist uprising in Sweden? By Brendan O’Neill.

Right now, in Europe, mobs of people are rioting. … Several cities have been shaken to their core by this riotous fury. …

It is not an angry uprising for democracy or liberty, but its polar opposite — it’s a screech of religious rage against the expression of certain ‘blasphemous’ ideas; it’s a fiery effort to suppress ‘offensive’ speech. Some of the worst riots in a country’s living memory …

This is happening in Sweden. It’s been happening for four days now. … Scores of police officers have been injured and dozens of rioters arrested. According to the BBC, Sweden’s national police chief, Anders Thornberg, says he has ‘never seen such violent riots’. He says the rioters ‘tried to kill police officers’.



The spark for all this? Blasphemy. Specifically, blasphemy carried out by a far-right Danish-Swedish politician by the name of Rasmus Paludan. Mr Paludan leads an anti-immigration, anti-Islam outfit called Stram Kurs (Hard Line). He has a penchant for burning copies of the Koran. And he’s been doing it in Sweden in recent days, travelling from city to city to take part in anti-Islam rallies that involve desecrating copies of Islam’s holy book. The rioting has tended to follow this weird Koran-burning tour by an undoubtedly bigoted politician. …

The mainstream media is covering for their allies:

Even where there has been mainstream media coverage of the riots … it has tended to obscure rather than enlighten. Euphemism abounds. The BBC refers to it as ‘unrest’. It labels the rioters as ‘counter-demonstrators’, imbuing them, whether intentionally or not, with a political legitimacy they surely do not deserve.

Much of the coverage gives the impression that the true cause of the violence is Mr Paludan, which is incredibly infantilising of the rioters. Mr Paludan may well hold repugnant beliefs, but he has not thrown missiles at the police or set fire to cars or smashed shop and school windows. … These people — mostly Muslims — are not children, however much the paternalism and pity that motor identity politics might try to convince us otherwise. No, they made a decision to use physical force in response to speech. They are not ‘counter-demonstrators’; they’re rioters, and they are using fire and fury to try to force out of the public sphere speech they find offensive.

To be clear, Mr Paludan’s public expressions are offensive. He wants to outlaw Islam in Denmark. …

Let’s talk about rights and western civilization:

And yet there is a point of principle that soars above all of this. Above Mr Paludan’s vulgarity and the question of whether he should say the things he says; above the fact that some people view the Koran, as the BBC sympathetically says in its report on the Swedish riots, as ‘the sacred word of God’, and thus consider ‘any intentional damage or show of disrespect towards it’ as ‘deeply offensive’; above, fundamentally, people’s feelings and sensitivities.

And that is freedom of speech. The right of every individual to say what he believes to be true, even if it upsets, outrages, disturbs.

Let’s lay it on the line: Mr Paludan’s right to desecrate the Koran must take precedence, legally and morally, over a Swedish Muslim’s right never to feel offended. This is the enlightened way. This is the path of liberty.

To their credit, the Swedish police seem to have some understanding of this point of principle. Can you imagine a British police force giving permission to a far-right rally with a public burning of the Koran? Swedish police chiefs have said that all people in Sweden must be free to ‘use their constitutionally protected rights’ both ‘to express their opinion’ and ‘to demonstrate’. This is exactly right: Mr Paludan and his weird minions must have the right to express their opinion that Islam is evil and those who feel offended must have the right to protest against them.

And yes, burning objects counts as an expression of opinion. For decades, American warriors for freedom of speech have insisted on the right of people to burn the Stars and Stripes because, in the words of Nadine Strossen, even ‘deeply unpopular [and] offensive’ speech should be free speech. So Paludan should have the right to burn the Koran, and others should have the right to say ‘Don’t do this, please’.

But rioting? That’s something else entirely.

Sweden’s days of rioting are not ‘counter-demonstrations’. They are not ‘speech’. No, this is violence, and it is violence deployed to the end of shushing blasphemous commentary.

This is an unstable, incoherent species of Inquisition, in which a menacing message is being sent: offend my religious sensibilities, offend me, and we will visit destruction upon you. No nation that believes in liberty should cave in to such threats. It would give religious fundamentalists a veto over what may and may not be said in public, over freedom itself. …

Those riots in Sweden can be seen as a physical manifestation of woke sensibilities, of the regressive belief that certain people’s self-esteem should trump other people’s liberty to utter their ideas …

Public discussion about Sweden is too often suppressed. Remember the trouble Donald Trump got into when he said Sweden was experiencing certain social problems? And yet he was right. A culture of instability is palpable in Sweden. Particular crimes rose following the influx of large numbers of migrants in 2015. There is an unprecedented number of gun and grenade attacks. And now there has been nearly a week of rioting because someone made fun of a religious book.

But the woke employ the same tactics as the Muslims — cancellation of critics rather than debate — so they can hardly criticize. Their response is to not talk about it. Biggest riots ever in Sweden, major civilizational clash, but have you heard about it on your news programs?