Young Muslims vulnerable to abuse

One in four young Muslims in Sweden are subjected to abuse because of their religion, according to a new report. Sweden's Living History Forum has just released its report, 'Islamophobia - a study of the term, young people's attitudes and young Muslims' vulnerability'.

“Since the term Islamophobia is relatively new and has different meanings depending on who uses it, it is necessary to discuss and clarify the term,” said acting director Anna-Karin Johansson in a press release.

A large part of the study is concerned with an attempt to define what is meant by Islamophobia.

“The term refers to something real which we talk about, and which leads to further disscussion. At the same time the word Islamobhobia works as a sort of flag, which annoys and upsets people, and in this way brings serious societal problems to light,” said Islamologist Jonas Otterbeck.

The Living History Forum commissioned Otterbeck and economic historian Pieter Bevelander to carry out the study, which is part of the organisation’s ‘Intolerance’ series. Anti-Semitism and homophobia have previously come under the spotlight.

The study found that one in four young Muslims have been exposed to abuse over the last year because of their religion. The term abuse in this context refers to violence, threats, verbal abuse and unfair treatment.

Otterbeck and Bevelander also attempted to localise where these Islamophobic sentiments were coming from.

“Boys who live in municipalities with relatively high unemployment, a large proportion of immigrants and a relatively large industrial sector are more negative than boys living in other municipalities.

“For girls we find no such connection,” the report states.

The Living History Forum report also shows that attitudes are more negative to Muslims in areas with strong Sweden Democrat representation.

“Other local societal factors also affect young people’s attitudes to Muslims, such as the existence of right-wing populist parties with local authority mandates

“In municipalities where the Sweden Democrats have a mandate, intolerance is generally stronger than in other municipalities,” according to the report.