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Säpo warns Swedish imam over internet threat

Published: 15 Mar 2011 13:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Mar 2011 13:20 GMT+01:00

Swedish security service Säpo have expressed concerns about the safety of a Swedish imam who was recently hired by the Church of Sweden to work with teenagers at a Stockholm youth centre.

Imam Othman Al Tawalbeh made headlines in Sweden last week after it was revealed that he had been hired to work with children at Fryshuset, a youth centre in Stockholm run by the Church of Sweden.

The idea behind the appointment was to provide spiritual guidance for the couple of thousand children with a Muslim background who regularly visit the youth centre.

But when foreign ministry officials discovered internet postings which portrayed Al Tawalbeh in a negative light, they reported the postings to the Stockholm police, who handed the matter over to Säpo.

"They said that they are concerned for my welfare and that they are taking the matter seriously," Al Tawalbeh told local newspaper Helsingborgs Dagbladet.

The texts, which are written in Arabic and have found their way into established Arab newspapers, describe Al Tawalbeh as an apostate, someone who has left the true faith.

According to Al Tawalbeh, the author is Mahmoud Aldebe, a prominent Swedish Muslim who caused headlines in 2006 when he was advocating Sharia laws in Sweden.

“He claims that most people think that I poison the true Muslim faith, that I will try to turn Muslim youngsters into Christians and that I advocate women’s rights,” Al Tawalbeh told HD.

Al Tawalbeh said he is used to being criticised but that this time it is more serious.

“Family and friends are worried and have contacted me to find out what is going on,” he said.

The police confirmed that Säpo has been in contact with Al Tawalbeh but told HD that it is too early to say how serious a threat he is facing.

The Church of Sweden has also been criticised for the appointment of Al Tawalbeh.

On Sunday two Swedish female priests wrote an article in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper in which they questioned the appointment of an imam by a foundation run by the Church of Sweden.

Annika Borg and Johanna Andersson argued in the article that a prerequisite of being employed by the Church of Sweden had so far been to share the same core values, whether employed as a priest or as a janitor.

“It is our opinion that the appointment of an imam is unfortunate. It is a step taken too rashly and without proper consideration,” they wrote in SvD.

Despite the possible threat, Al Tawalbeh is eager to be getting on with his new job and his first prayers are scheduled to take place at Fryshuset in Stockholm this coming Friday.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:49 March 15, 2011 by eZee.se
"that I advocate women's rights"

Oh the horror, the horror!

"two Swedish female priests"

Seriously, the church of Sweden couldnt be bigger clowns if 49 of them got out of a single car wearing long floppy shoes.
14:50 March 15, 2011 by truthworthy
Well to threaten his life or call him apostate is absolutely insane and unacceptable. But the man should accept the criticism, someone who is claiming to be an imam but working for a church is weird. There are profound differences between these two faiths. A church where a son is declared for the Almighty God, a church where partners are assigned to God, I dont know why a Muslim who claims to have 8 years in Islamic studies would go there to take salary from.

He could have helped the youth through other organisations or by forming his own but to be an employee of a church and being an imam. I wouldn't recommend that.
14:50 March 15, 2011 by bolababu
hahaha, säpo warns moslem imam hired by the christian church of sweden! ..religion, politic's most faithful mistress! ..we the people are just the bed that they fornicate upon.
15:17 March 15, 2011 by witsltd
I applaud both the Swedish Church and the Imam on this case.

He has been hired to provide spiritual guidanec to youth with muslim background. The church has recognised that they have such visitors and it was right decision to bring in an Imam.

It doesnt say anywhere in the religious books that a muslim imam can not work alongside christian priests for a noble cause.

It is a bit surprising to hear two priests revealing a very strange rule. You will not hire a janitor if he/she is muslim/budhist/hindu??? Seriously???
15:56 March 15, 2011 by Stickeroo
This coming from two FEMALE priests?? ROFLMAO! Get back in the kitchen....
16:47 March 15, 2011 by muscle
@truthworthy: ISLAM, in its original form, states that muslims need to respect all other religions and other people's belief. And that muslims need to work hands in hands with people from other faiths. This is the reason it is called the religion of peace! I know this doesnt APPEAR true now ....

But the problem is, with the corrupted minds every where, and like every rule on earth can be misused or can be used for good, same is case with some muslims of today that people have started to see a different picture of muslims.

Such practices should be initiated by everyone. Thumbs up for swedish church and imam. I expect the similar step from the muslim world as well here in sweden. They should go for it as well!
16:54 March 15, 2011 by truthworthy
@muscle I am absolutely for respect and working with people of other faiths. But this is not working together, this is employment - when you are employed by a company you are not a partner with the company but you work for them.

So instead of becoming an employee of the church, it would have been better if the imam choose to work with them through partnership. I agree with you that some practices of some people that call themselves Muslims give a bad image of Islam and Muslims as a whole. but I am not sure if working for Sofia church will solve that.

thanks
17:27 March 15, 2011 by calebian22
Trustworthy,

For the first time ever, I agree with you. The church of Sweden should be teaching it's children Christianity, not Islam. The imam shouldn't be an employee or a partner. Religion is about freedom of choice. Choose a church, a mosque, a synagogue, or whatever else floats your boat. A surf and turf menu approach to religion is ridiculous.
20:26 March 15, 2011 by muscle
@ truthworthy: it was just a comment, didn't mean to say that you were wrong :)

I dont know what were the reasons for the IMAM to choose the church as employer, but I do know that sometimes when you want to do good many of your own fellows become hurdles in the way... but yes he could have used through partnership.
22:45 March 15, 2011 by Boyfriend
1 % of each of our salary goes to Swedish Church, many Muslims know or do not know but they are paying monthly fee to Church. The Imams are being paid from that money I guess? or maybe I am wrong correct me.

How many of you knew that? well I do not see any problem for an Imam to work with Church if the Imam intension be to do Dawah (invite others to learn Islam) that is how Islam spread.

But after all we are born from one parents for a while forget the religion , think about the Arab brown black hair good looking :P and the handsome black guy you see in reality He /she is your cousins :) immediately you would not be more racist .

Islam solves this problem by this verse of holy Quran:

{O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other)} [Al-Hujurat:13]

No Muslims is a Muslim who does not believe in Jesus Christ peace be upon him and his miracles ! Jesus Christ is our love and as Muslim I do love both my Holy messengers and others even the messenger who were sent to Jews :) They were all sent to mankind to spread love and all of them talked about worshiping one God not ghost or something you can not explain like trinity hehe
08:10 March 16, 2011 by buahaha
SAPO should move themselves and they should not make war propaganda against Muslims. Any idea or plan to kill someone is job for police and not for political police. I will not comment behavior of Imam because I am not Muslim.
18:26 March 16, 2011 by jbat
SAPO should be more intelligent , so they can solve many other crime mystery or problem.. not trying to use this small problem and make it big for their own cheap publicity!
12:16 March 17, 2011 by Jes
The Immam will be safer working as a pig farm Manager .

The Swedisn church should hire an athiest to neutralize religious extremism among the youths that are crazy enough to vist its gardens .
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