PRESS STATEMENT | UUCSA Meets Ambassador of Sweden
A delegation from the United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) met with Ambassador Hakan Juholt and the deputy head of mission, Mr Christian Fogelstrom, on Tuesday 7th March 2023, at the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria. This follows a request for a meeting with the ambassador, after the atrocious act of the burning of the Qur’an by Rasmus Paludan, a Danish-Swedish right wing politician in Stockholm, earlier this year in January.
The UUCSA delegation gave an overview of the profile of Muslims in South Africa and expressed a concern over the rise of extremism, reflected by the burning of a copy of the Qur’an in Sweden which took place under police guard, giving the impression that such a callous act was sanctioned by the authorities.
Ambassador Juholt expressed his appreciation to UUCSA for initiating dialogue which he said is critical in responding to the rise of extremism across the globe. He assured the delegation that the overwhelming Swedish population is inclined to peaceful coexistence across the religious divide. The ambassador added that the act of one extremist should not be used to condemn or judge the entire Swedish population or government.
When asked about the somewhat muted response from the Swedish government, the ambassador explained that the current debate within the corridors of power is whether Paludan should be jailed for a hate crime which the majority agree was deliberately provocative and inflammatory.
UUCSA submitted a memorandum to Ambassador Juholt which states among other points that the burning of the Quran has offended the 1.9 billion Muslims of the world. It is a symbolic call for the marginalisation of Muslims, where failure to tackle such hateful acts creates an environment in which Islamophobia becomes ever more normalised, resulting in a hostile and dangerous environment for Muslims.
The ambassador asked the delegation to consider further dialogue and engagement in order to mutually explore ways of dealing with a myriad of social ills that give rise to xenophobia, the lack of opportunities for the youth, and religious/political extremism.
Yusuf Patel (Moulana)
15 Shabaan 1444 / 08 March 2023