SHAFAQNA – A nationalist politician in Sweden was forced to resign on Monday after declaring that Muslims are the opposite of humans.
“On one end of the scale you are 100 percent human, a person, everything that’s part of that concept. At the other end, you are 100 percent Mohammedan,” Martin Strid, a member of the far-right Swedish Democrats (SD), told a party conference on Saturday.
“If you are an ex-Muslim you have come quite far towards being fully human,” he added, saying that he would like to “free Muslims from Islam” and encourage them to join Sweden’s Democratic Party instead.
The speech was widely televised on Sweden’s SVT station, and Strid was quickly reported to the police for hate speech. Members of his own party denounced his statement as “racist.” The party’s leader even told local television that he had never heard of Strid before the speech.
“Everyone has fundamental human worth, the same for everyone,” SDP party secretary, Richard Jomshof, party secretary for the Swedish democrats, toldSwedish reporters., told Swedish reporters. If you think that someone has a worse value based on a certain skin color or the community they are part of, that is racism for me. We will not accept that,”
Strid apologized for his statements the next day on television, saying that he had expressed himself “clumsily.”
“If you are stressed and in a hurry, you can sometimes express yourself wrongly,” Strid said.
“I know a lot of Muslims and am good friends with a lot. People are people, of course,” he added.
Strid reportedly quit the party just a few hours later.
Like elsewhere in Europe, Sweden has seen far-right groups bank on suspicion and hostility towards migrants to ratchet up their political stakes. The SD, which has been criticized repeatedly for racism and for its “Nazi roots,” has more than doubled its votes in the 2014 general election, but remains isolated and shunned by every other party in parliament. Sweden is one of the countries that have taken in the highest number of refugees during the migrant crisis, which saw refugees streaming out of Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa in search of peace and stability abroad.
“The Swedish population grew by more than 100,000 in 2014. This was the result of record high immigration (127,000) and more births than deaths. But more than 50,000 people also chose to leave the country,” the government’s migration websitereads.
“Refugees from active war zones continue to immigrate to Sweden. In 2014, there were over 80,000 asylum seekers, with the three largest groups being Syrians, Eritreans and people with no state or country,” the website notes.
Despite racist comments of the kind made by Strid, Sweden’s Muslims appear to have faith in public institutions and feel closely connected to the country they live in. In September, a survey of Muslims in Europe noted that Muslims rated their level of attachment to Sweden at 4.4 out of 5 points.