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Debate rages in Sweden over Muslim Brotherhood report

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Debate rages in Sweden over Muslim Brotherhood report
A report into the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden has caused debate after researchers disputed its contents. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
17:30 CET+01:00
A report commissioned by Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) to look into the influence of the Islamist organization the Muslim Brotherhood in the country has sparked debate, with a number of researchers disputing the methodology used and conclusions reached.

The report suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly leading Islamists in building a parallel society in Sweden by infiltrating organizations and political parties in the country.

It also claims that there is an "established structure of values among the country's political elite which stipulate how as a citizen you should approach 'minorities'".

But in a blog post signed by 22 Swedish researchers specializing in religious studies, the claims were labelled as "almost conspiracy-theory like", and the study accused of ignoring previous research, lacking sources, and basing conclusions on personal views rather than evidence.

The idea that Islamists are secretly building a parallel society in Sweden is, according to the 22 researchers "a conclusion which goes against the collective research" in the field.

"The major shortcoming of the report is that it seems to be completely unaware of Islamic research which currently exists at Swedish and Nordic universities," Lund University professor of Islamic studies Jan Hjärpe, who was one of the 22 researchers to sign the blog post, told The Local.

"The list of signatories is comprised largely of active researchers who have done and do in-depth studies on a range of the relevant concerns. It is striking that MSB ordered this report without at all consulting the expertise available. I suspect this is due to ignorance on the authority's behalf," he added.

MSB defended the report however, saying it is a feasibility study designed in part to present proposals for further studies and research in the area.

"The feasibility study is not a research report, but a study which can give MSB support to see what need there is for further study and research work in the field. In order for MSB to have a good ability to identify and address influencers and the spreading of misleading information against Sweden we need to work with different types of knowledge," MSB's head of operations Anneli Bergholm Söder said in a press release.

"The authors themselves are responsible for the contents of the preliminary study. Obviously we make an assessment of the result and in this case we need to continue studies and research in the field. The ongoing debate about the study and its findings are important pieces of knowledge and input for the way forward," she added.

The Local contacted the report's editor Magnus Norell for comment on Friday, but he was not available due to travel commitments. In response to the blog post he previously told public service broadcaster SVT:

"Had they smoked something before they read it? You just need to read the report. If someone doesn't accept this, there's not much I can do about it. It's proven."

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