Saturday, 11 February 2006
Sweden: Closing of a website opens for some questions
Not because it was wrong, but dangerous
The Swedish Secret Police (SÄPO) may have shown here to act quite cleaver. But seemingly not neutral. On the other hand, is there any official institution which is at heart neutral on the issue "refugees and immigrants"?
With cybernetic acceleration the Swedish public has been informed on the following happenings of the 10th of February: a) After "advice" from the Swedish Secret Police, a website allocated to a small far-rightist party (SD), and which had recently re-published some infamous anti-Muslim cartoons, was "closed", b) The Imam in Stockholm expressed gratitude to the Swedish government for its attitude, and c) The Swedish Foreign Minister manifested "the government had nothing to do with the closing of the publication".
The general message delivered to the Muslim community is that the closing of the site (in fact, the lifting of the offensive materials) goes in line with the respect they have asked - and deserve, as any other faith - towards its religious traditions, as long those do not imply intolerant behaviour or the exercise of violence. I think this formulation interprets what most Swedes and immigrants do we have as general principle in this matter.
The move is also internationally political correct, by means of following the appeal of the UN General Secretary on this issue. The Muslims thanked to the government, right from the Imam's podium at their Mosque in Stockholm.
By arguing the government did not intervene upon the editors of the SP Journal online through a direct exercised prohibition of the publication, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Laila Freivalds (photo DN 12/2 2005) secured the Swedish praxis of non-violating the Freedom of the press and speech, and with this, providing a kind of solidarity with the line staunchly defended – If not purely as resons of pretext – by Danish counterparts.
Neutrality was also served here by means of declaring it was not a question of unwaveringly ordering this or that, but instead just a matter of “informing” the owner of the Internet server of what the publication would entail for Swedish interests. And the elegant touch: No direct contact from the government side was made with the editors of the journal on line in question.
On the other hand:
Seemingly, the Swedish Secret Police did not primarily act to protect the integrity of the offended Muslim immigrant community against this flagrant insult from SD, a party considered in Sweden as having a frank racist ideology. The reason publicly given was to protect partly the owners of the commercial Website, and the people responsible of editing and publishing the offensive anti Muslim material. "Anonimous" or private sites in Sweden continued to link towards where the cartoons would still be found.
This is what Mr. Klas Bergenstrand, the highest rank commander at the Swedish Secret Police expressed in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter (11/2 05, article of Stafan Kihström):
"We shall prevent crime, and we have seen an imminent risk for crimes which can be exercised against those who have produced and were responsible for the website. Thus it is our duty to inform on that. We did this without request, without petition, insinuations, or appeals.” “If something would have been done against the SD party-members or the one technically responsible (for the publications) it would have existed reason for criticizing us”.
No word whatsoever was directed on the ethical issue of the publication, neither in regard to protective measures towards the Muslim minority permanently targeted by the SD party and other racist sectors. Possibly, if this protection is done, would it be done discretely.
The entirely message seems to be "Not because it is wrong, but because it is dangerous".
Nevertheless, the bottom line here is that the all operation around the closing of the website was a clean & cleaver move, and which gave many scores with only one swing. Judging from the DN-picture above with the heading "Jag visste inte vad Puhket var" (a popular vacation site for Swedes, hit by the Tsunami), the credit for the operation design - that certainly will prevent potential harassment of many Swedes at some Middle East, Asian and African countries - most surely goes to SÄPO.