'Separate laws for Muslims' idea slammed
Published: 28th April 2006 10:08 CET
Sweden's largest Muslim
organisation has demanded that Sweden
introduce separate laws for Muslims, according to Swedish television. Sweden's
equality minister Jens Orback called the proposals
The Swedish Muslim Association, which represents around 70,000 Muslims in Sweden, has sent a letter to all Sweden's main
political parties suggesting a number of reforms, SVT's
Rapport programme reported.
The proposals include allowing imams into state (public) schools to give
Muslim children separate lessons in Islam and their parents' native
languages. The letter also said that boys and girls should have separate
swimming lessons and that divorces between Muslims should be approved by an
The letter provoked an instant, and damning, response from integration and
equality minister Jens Orback.
"We will not have separate laws in Sweden. In Sweden, we
are all equal before the law. In Sweden, we have fought for a long
time to achieve gender-neutral laws, and to propose that certain groups
should not be treated like others is completely unacceptable."
Orback said he had spoken to representatives of the
Swedish Muslim Council, and they did not support the association's position.
"We have freedom of speech, we have the right to opinions and we have
the right to make proposals - but if a law is going to be changed, it must be
the same for everyone."
Asked whether the proposal plays into the hands of racists, Orback said that it did.
"I think it is very problematic and unfortunate that people who have
been in Sweden
for so long make proposals such as this that are so opposed to our
intentions, when we are fighting for women's rights and the right to
divorce," Orback replied.
Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg also slammed
the idea of separate laws.
has equality between men and women. To introduce exceptions for Muslims so
that women can be oppressed with the support of the law is completely
unacceptable to me," Liberal leader Lars Leijonborg
wrote in a statement.