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Islamists call the shots in Swedish town

January 29, 2009

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STOCKHOLM, Jan 28: Small groups of radical Islamists have a stranglehold on part of a southern Swedish town that saw violent riots last month, a report submitted to the Swedish government said on Wednesday.

The Rosengaard neighbourhood of Malmoe was the scene of two nights of unrest between immigrant youths and police last month.

Around 85 per cent of the 22,000 inhabitants are either immigrants or second generation immigrants and unemployment is 38 per cent

Radical Islamists control the lives of Rosengaard families and set the rules, authors Magnus Ranstorp and Josefine Dos Santos, terrorism experts at Sweden’s National Defence College, wrote in the report.

“Families who have just moved into the neighbourhood and who have never been particularly religious or traditional claim that they led freer lives in their home country than in Rosengaard,” the report said.

Muslim women who did not wear the veil in their home country were for example obliged to don it, according to the study.

The authors also singled out “cellar mosques” whose members serve as a kind of “thought police”.

The 30-page report, entitled “Threat to Democracy and Values - A Snapshot from Malmoe”, is based on interviews with 30 people working in the city, including the police, secret service, social services and teachers.

All of them except one said they had observed a radicalisation of Rosengaard in the past five years. Examples such as forced marriages of young teens abroad were cited, the report said.

The report also describes how Rosengaard residents who found jobs tended to move out of the neighbourhood, and how the number of students in public school has halved in recent years due to a rise in increasingly criticised state-subsidised “free schools” which in Rosengaard focus on Muslim teachings.

“The fact that there are fundamentalist groups in Rosengaard that organise child marriages, harass women that don’t wear the veil and encourage youths to isolate themselves from society is totally unacceptable,” Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni said in a statement.

“Sweden’s laws, rights and gender equality apply to everyone, including those in Rosengaard,” she added.

The December riots in Rosengaard erupted following protests over the closure of an Islamic cultural centre that housed a mosque, and spread to become a general expression of discontent among disadvantaged youths.—AFP