How a Swedish agency stopped funding the Muslim Brotherhood

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In December 2016, the Swedish Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated youth organization Swedish Muslim Youth (Sveriges Unga MuslimerSUM), were denied public funding from the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (Myndigheten för Ungdoms-och Civilsamhällesfrågor, MUCF), a Swedish government agency that financed part of their activities. This is the first case in Sweden where an organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood has been refused funding because it is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and is undemocratic. This report will detail the process that led to the decision to suspend funding for this Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization, a process that was ultimately successful and settled by the Swedish court system.

SUM was established in 1991 and dissolved in 2020. It was a Swedish national youth organization with forty umbrella organizations across the country. It claimed to have around 5,000 members and organized seminars, camps and conferences on issues such as Islamophobia and Muslim identity and it often represented Muslims in the media. SUM said it was a democratic organization whose aim was to promote democratic education among Muslim children and young people. However, as this report will show, it also had undemocratic elements and did not do enough to address these issues. SUM eventually disbanded due to losing the last lawsuit against them.

As the SUM has never admitted to being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, issues raised about them have been attributed to Muslims and Islam. This means, among other things, that Islam has been portrayed as inherently anti-Semitic in Sweden. This caused damage to Islam and Muslims and was compounded by the lack of research on the difference between Islam and Islamism and the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden. Few academics have taken on the role of actually conducting this research. Instead, Sweden has had scholars who support Islamists, those who are silent, or scholars who claim that Islamism and Islam are somewhat similar.

Even though the Muslim Brotherhood profits, invents and abuses accusations of Islamophobia, objectively speaking, anti-Muslim sentiments exist and feed into the Muslim Brotherhood narrative by confirming their exaggerated and conspiratorial worldview. This implies that the Islamist narrative of the “war on Islam” is partly constructed by anti-Islam activists who are rarely taken seriously by policy makers. Consequently, those who amplify Islamist views have also failed to reach policy makers in their effort to raise awareness of the problem of Islamist movements.

By thwarting Islamist influence in Europe, anti-Muslim hype and putting opinions ahead of scholarship have contributed to delaying an effective response. Therefore, the case of the cessation of funding for SUM shows the importance of science in the fight against Islamist groups and the need for further research on Islamism to find constructive solutions to the challenges facing Europe. confronted.

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