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ISLAM

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police

The chief executive of a largely Muslim free school in Gothenburg has been placed in custody by the Swedish Migration Agency on the orders of the country's Säpo security police. It follows the arrests of other Imams in recent months.

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police
He was seized on Wednesday and taken to an immigration detention centre in the city, Sweden's Expressen newspaper reported on Thursday
 
Abdel-Nasser el Nadi, chief executive of Vetenskapsskolan, is the fifth senior member of Sweden's Muslim community to be placed in custody in less than a month. 
 
Three prominent imams are now in custody: Abo Raad, imam of a mosque in Gävle, Hussein Al-Jibury, imam of a mosque in Umeå, and Fekri Hamad, imam of a mosque in Västerås. Raad's son is also being held. 
 
 
Sven-Erik Berg, the school's headmaster, told The Local that he had no idea what was behind the arrest. 
 
“We don't know anything. I don't know anything more than you,” he said. “We are doing nothing, but the school is naturally maintaining a dialogue with the Swedish School Inspectorate and their lawyers.” 
 
He said it was inaccurate to describe the school as a 'Muslim school' as it has no official confessional status. 
 
“The chief executive is a central person among Swedish Muslims, so naturally the group of people we recruit from are often those who have a relation to Islam or Sweden's Islamic associations,” he said. “But the school does not go around telling children what they should or shouldn't believe.”
 
On its website the school declares: “At our school everyone is treated equally irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic background, appearance, opinions, or abilities”. 
 
“We are one of the best schools in Gothenburg. You just have to look at the statistics,” Berg added.  
 
A spokesman for Säpo told Expressen that he could not comment on any of the five cases or on whether they were in some way linked. 
 
But according to the Swedish news site Doku, which investigates Islamic extremists, Säpo is probing whether el Nadi has any links to a network of Islamic militants.
 
In an article published last October, the site alleged that El Nadi's activism was part of the reason that so many young men from Gothenburg had travelled to fight for the terror group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. 
 
El-Nadi was previously the school's headmaster, and the school was in 2018 criticised by the Swedish School Inspectorate for not sufficiently promoting equality between girls and boys.
 
When he was interviewed by Dagens Nyheter a year ago, he asserted his loyalty to Sweden. 
 
“I have five children, all of whom were born in Sweden, a big family, and I want to protect this society in the same way that I have protected my children,” he said.  
 
El-Nadi was born in Egypt but has lived in Sweden since 1992. He has twice applied to become a Swedish citizen, in 2007 and 2011, and twice been rejected. 
   
 
 

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SCHOOLS

Half pupils flunk school in crime-hit Swedish districts

More than half the pupils in many of Sweden’s ‘specially vulnerable’ regions leave elementary school with no qualification, a study carried out by Sweden’s TT newswire has found.

Half pupils flunk school in crime-hit Swedish districts
Police at Bergsjöskolan in 2016 after six pupils were wounded in a knife fight. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
“We’re starting to approach rock-bottom when it comes to school inequalities,” Anders Trumberg, a schools researcher at Örebro University, told the newswire. 
 
“Very often, pupils have social problems which spill over into school, making it hard for teachers to focus on teaching and pedagogy.” 
 
Sweden’s police have classed 23 districts in the country as ‘specially vulnerable’, meaning a heavy criminal presence makes police work difficult and residents cannot rely on the criminal justice system. 
 
In a majority of schools in the Gothenburg’s five ‘specially vulnerable’ districts, TT found, less than half of pupils leave elementary school with a qualification. The situation is similar in Seved and Rosengård in Malmö, and in Stockholm suburbs like Husby and Rinkeby. 
 
In Bergsjöskolan in the Gothenberg suburb of Bergsjön, 69.8 percent of 15-year-olds finished the ninth, final class of elementary school without a qualification. And in Sjumilaskolan in the suburb of Biskopsgården 67.3 percent did so.
 
On average across Sweden, 17.5 percent of pupils fail to leave elementary school with a qualification. 
 
Trumberg said Sweden’s school choice system contributed to the problem by allowing students from less troubled backgrounds to avoid the worst performing schools. 
 
“It’s hard for today’s school system to handle the inequalities.  In practice this beings enormous consequences for individual schools which are quite simply drained of pupils motivated to study.” 
 
In many schools the situation has worsened over the past five years. 
 
Manne Gerell, a criminologist from Malmö University, said that those who fail to leave school with a qualification were much more likely to be drawn into organised crime, making it hard to break the negative spiral in these districts.  
 
“It’s about a pretty big volume of new youth coming in every year,” he said. “This of course makes it difficult to build a positive development in these areas.” 
 
Trumberg said there was no “quick fix” for the problem.  
 
“School is the arena where these inequalities become visible. But breaking the the underlying structural problems, such as child poverty, is not the responsibility of schools, but of labour market policy,” he said. 
 
“Society needs to work broadly and over the long-term in a huge number of different policy areas to turn the situation around.” 
 
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