Wilders and Akesson

A wave of anti Muslim sentiment is beginning to take hold in Europe. First it was Holland, with the rise of Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom, which came out vociferously against immigration, and specifically Muslim immigration. He claimed that if the Dutch don’t wake up, Sharia, or Islamic religious law, would take over the country.

Now it is Sweden and the Sweden Democrats party of Jimmie Åkesson, who described Islam as Sweden’s biggest national security threat since the Second World War. On that platform, the party won 20 seats in the Swedish parliament, signaling a significant shift in the political map in the country, one that is symptomatic all over the continent.

Haaretz reports that Åkesson also presented “skewed statistics ostensibly to prove that immigrants were five times more likely than native Swedes to be convicted of rape.” If Åkesson is speaking of Muslims, then Sharia law would support such statistics, being that according Muslim religious law, a man is allowed, and even encouraged, to rape his wife within marriage, rape being defined as nonconsensual relations.

The Swedish party headed by Åkesson does, however, have roots in neo-Nazism, and from that perspective could be seen as quite threatening to local Jews. And yet, they are a pro-Israel party, in that public enemy number one is Islam and not Judaism.

David Landes, editor of the English language Swedish paper The Local had this to say: “I do not equate this reformed Nazi party…with anti-Semitism per se. It’s that Swedish brand of Nazism which is more about preserving the traditions and strength of the white Nordic race than about wanting to crack the skulls of Jews.” Where that can turn  remains to be seen.

Jews in the country are conflicted between their disgust for xenophobia which could turn into anti Semitism, and their fear of Muslim extremism as well. The same case holds for Geert Wilders’ victory in Holland, who also ran on an anti Muslim platform. Soundbites from him include a quote that moderate Muslims do not exist and that Islam is an evil religion. Wilders’ movement is politically farther ahead than Åkesson’s, with Wilders’ a more serious contender for the prime ministership of his country and his coming in third last election season.

With Europe becoming enveloped in a sea of anti Islamic sentiment, the question of when and what will happen when the boiling point is reached remains an interesting question, especially for the European Jewish community.