For a number of years, the Swedish Church Assembly in Nacka has been running a project that will eventually build a mosque in connection with the existing church in Fisksätra, Stockholm.
By – Brünnhilde
The planned common building is called “God’s house” and is estimated to cost 39 million, an amount the church is now attempting to collect through a foundation. Critics have questioned whether the church should really build mosques and if it should instead focus on the Christian faith.
The plans to build this so-called “God’s house” in Fisksätra, Nacka municipality in southern Stockholm, began to be formulated in 2009. Fisksätra is an immigrant area with a large Muslim population. The following year, the pastor and former bishop of Karlstad, Bengt Wadensjö, presented the project in a debate article in Svenska Dagbladet. He initially refers to the Swedish Democrats:
“When the fear of the unknown, in the form of Islam in Sweden, gives a profile in the news flow with the Social Democrats political party taking place in the parliament, I want to highlight a completely different picture of Sweden. Jimmie Åkesson wrote in the Aftonbladet on October 20, 2009 that ‘the Muslims are our biggest foreign threat’. In Nacka, we do not think immigrants or Muslims would be a threat. They are an asset. ”
Bengt Wadensjö said that Muslims and Christians were united in the sense that God is one and that “Muslims are generally peaceful and honest” and that the project would mean “world peace begins in Fisksätra”.
The idea is that the mosque will be built next to the church and united with it through a jointly locked foyer. The Muslim Assembly has bought the land needed at the cost of 300,000, an amount that will not be paid until the project is completed.
Criticism against the plans has been loud and powerful.. As soon as the project was announced, the decision to set up a fundraising foundation was appealed to Stockholm’s chapter of judgment, stating that it was indeed contrary to the basic task of the Church of Sweden.
However, the judgment chapter decided that the project certainly fell within the Christian scope of task and rejected the claim. The question then went on to the Swedish Church Appeals Board, which agreed on the same decision as the Domapitlet.
New times spoke with Carl Dahlbäck, who is a church leader in the Nacka parish and one of the driving forces behind the project. Regarding the major criticism that the construction of a mosque is hardly connected to the core of the Church, he explains:
“Core activity for the church is a message of peace, living in peace and peace with all people of all kinds, both believers and unbelievers. It must be a core business. That’s what we both do and plan for. Good religious meetings, you can say. But this is not just a house for believers, but a house for all people.”
The church’s budget for building the new building amounts to SEK 39 million, which is to be collected by contributions. When the fundraising foundation was formed, the current housing minister Mehmet Kaplan (MP) and LO’s former chairman Wanja Lundby-Wedin were on the board. Nacka Township, including Fisksätra, also applied to Stockholm’s 1.5 million Foundation for the sub-financing of the 3.2 million people, hoping that they would invest in promoting the project and the collection. The Board of Directors rejected this by seven votes against six.
Among those who voted for the financial contribution, is the bishop of Stockholm’s letter, Eva Brunne, who later resigned due to the rejection and announced that she continues to encourage and pray for the project.
In November 2014, the Nacka Assembly took the controversial decision to transfer testimony funds to the fundraising fund, in other words, money from the deceased who wanted to support the Church of Sweden. This decision was also appealed to the Dom chapter, which again rejected this protest. For New Times, Carl Dahlbäck explains how he views the criticism of the use of this money:
“There are different views on everything, and indeed to be expected, of course. But in terms of this initial capital, it was a testament to ABB shares, which we received from an unknown person. It was not intended for any particular purpose but we found it to be very timely as there was no money from church fees and our members, but we recieved it unreservedly and we could give it a good purpose.”
Many believed that the church had gone too far, among these journalist Elisabeth Sandlund, who wrote in the Christian newspaper the other day:
“When a Swedish church assembly, in this case, Nacka outside Stockholm, initiates and allocates funds to a fundraising foundation whose purpose is for a mosque to be built, the majority of the church massacre has lost contact with reality – and with it, the spirit and letter of the church.”
Anders Lundberg, who is a member of the church-political nomination group “Frimodig kyrka” and who has reported the project to the Covenant, also emphasises that the new mosque will invite spokespersons from the anti-democratic movement Hizb-ut-Tahrir, participate in collaboration with Islamist Tanzeem-e -Islami and invite members of the anti-Semitic Yusuf al-Qaradawi European Council of Appeal, as has been done on previous occasions.
In regards to these links to Islamism and anti-semitism, Carl Dahlbäck explains:
“Yes, I know that in a letter it has been pointed out that there are such links, but it really goes against the Muslim community, which believes that such values or perceptions are not present with them. One can say that websites and alternative news may write what they want about who they want, but that’s not the case. Here it was that we had an advertisement about our social activities on that site, and it was perceived as supporting it. . But that ad is gone and the issue is no longer relevant..”