Just as I sit down to write this column I get a news alert telling me that the Swedish security service launched a string of coordinated raids in the Swedish city of Örebro last night, acting on what they described as strong suspicions of terror recruitment. This is not to the first time, nor will it be the last, as Sweden in recent years has emerged as one of the world’s biggest producers of jihadis in proportion to its size. The latest raid was, according to the secret service, a result of a lengthy investigation into mosques in Eskilstuna and Örebro, where these religious institutions seem to have acted as hubs and meeting places for terror recruitment on a large scale.
This raid comes a week after the political majority in the city of Stockholm, consisting of the Social Democratic Party, the Feminist Initiative party and the Green Party, announced its action plan to deal with the ever-growing jihadi issue.
Immediately after being passed, the plan came under harsh scrutiny. The goal presented in the plan was, outside of attempting to stop them from leaving, to help integrate potential jihadis back into society upon their return. This help would take the form of financial aid, preferential treatment when finding apartments in the city as well as personal assistance in finding employment. Nowhere in this plan was any legal action against returning jihadis mentioned, despite them having perpetrated war crimes on foreign soil, nor was there any mention of if and how one might go about deradicalizing these individuals.
When the head of social affairs in Stockholm, Ewa Larsson of the Green Party, was asked about why the city chose to help jihadis financially rather than prosecute them, she replied that legal action was the police’s jurisdiction, whereas the politicians’ job is to address social issues. While this may be true, it may also be true that there is a strong correlation between the attitude of the Swedish government toward jihadism and the steady rise in extremism in Sweden.
Speaking of attitudes, cash is as good a method as policy when it comes to creating a trend. After pinpointing mosques and community centers as hubs for terror recruitment and jihadi activity, journalists started following the money trail and found that it led right back to the government. In Gothenburg, for example, one of the cities most plagued by Muslim extremism, the city awarded roughly the equivalent of $50,000 of tax money to Sveriges Förenade Muslimer (United Muslims of Sweden), an organization that has openly sided with the Muslim Brotherhood and is known for inviting speakers who encourage jihad and spew anti-Semitic rhetoric. Yet, it is my tax money that fund them, the same way my tax money will fund the “rehabilitation” of these jihadis once they decide to return home.
These are just a few examples of a much larger issue — the inability of the political establishment to properly identify these young men as perpetrators rather than victims, and to confront the source of the problem. There are currently around 400 Swedish citizens fighting in Syria for Islamic State, and a portion of them will return, bringing with them their ideology and all that they have learned. Syria is not Ibiza — it is not a hideaway for confused teens. These are ideologically driven young men who commit war crimes, and as such they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The government needs to communicate a firm message to anyone contemplating a similar path: Sweden does not accept terrorism, whether domestically or abroad. There will be consequences.
But wait, I misspoke. There are indeed consequences — just not the kind I wish to see. In today’s Sweden the consequence of joining global jihad is ultimately having an easier time getting an apartment in the city and having that apartment paid for by tax money while you get assistance in finding a job suitable for someone whose résumé consists of high school and beheadings.
I may joke, but there is nothing about this that is not infinitely sad. Not only are we losing our souls, we are also letting down hundreds of thousands of immigrants who live in neighborhoods that are being taken over by extremist forces. People who have fled fundamentalism are now finding it in what they thought was their safe haven. Liberals tend to miss that part since they do not live anywhere near these people. They fail to understand that equality means treating every citizen the same, regardless of skin color, gender or age — including but not limited to prosecuting them when they commit crimes. What this action plan against extremism is a symptom of, with its kid gloves and penalties packaged as gifts, is neither goodness nor liberalism. It’s just plain racism, sponsored by the state.