STOCKHOLM: Swe­dish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson denounced the leader of the far-right party propping up his government on Monday after he called for some mosques to be torn down.

Sweden Democrats (SD) leader Jimmie Akesson called for some mosques to be seized and levelled during a speech to his annual party conference on Saturday.

“We need to start confiscating and tearing down mosques where anti-democratic, anti-Swedish, homophobic, anti-Semitic propaganda or general disinformation is being spread,” Akesson said.

Kristersson, whose coalition government does not include SD but relies on its support, condemned the statements as “disrespectful”.

“I think it is a disrespectful way of expressing oneself, a polarising way of expressing oneself,” Kristersson told broadcaster SVT. “This misrepresents what Sweden stands for internationally,” he added.

Akesson’s speech spar­ked anger both in Sweden and abroad and forced Kristersson to issue a statement on X, formerly Twitter, reiterating Sweden’s “constitutional right to freedom of religion”.

“In Sweden, we do not demolish places of worship. As a society, we must fight back against violent extremism whatever its grounds — but we will do so within the framework of a democratic state and the rule of law,” he said.

Former Social Democrat prime minister Magdalena Andersson called for Kristersson to remove all SD officials working at the cabinet offices in Stockholm.

“It worsens the image of Sweden, does not facilitate our Nato application and further increases polarisation in our country. This is not putting Sweden and the Swedish people’s safe­ty and security first,” Ande­rsson said on X.

Sweden, whose Nato application still needs ratification from Hungary and Turkiye, has seen a slew of incidents spark tensions with countries around the Middle East.Last year Sweden was the target of a vast disinformation campaign claiming its social services were “kidnapping Muslim children” and placing them in Christian homes, forcing the authorities to publicly deny the allegations.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

What next for PTI?
Updated 23 Feb, 2024

What next for PTI?

THE incoming government has been carved up. With the major offices apportioned between the PML-N and PPP, the...
Tackling debt
23 Feb, 2024

Tackling debt

MANY would tend to describe a new report warning that the country is headed for “inevitable default”, which will...
Imprisoned abroad
23 Feb, 2024

Imprisoned abroad

THE issue of Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in foreign jails crops up regularly, particularly during parliamentary...
On a leash
Updated 22 Feb, 2024

On a leash

Shehbaz will not find it easy to introduce the much-needed major changes to the economy without running into resistance.
Shameful veto
22 Feb, 2024

Shameful veto

THE US has scored a hat-trick by vetoing, for the third time, a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for an...
Truth under threat
22 Feb, 2024

Truth under threat

AS WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange mounts a last-ditch effort against being extradited from the UK to the US, one...