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On to Uppsala, where Abdul Wadod – who, amusingly, looked not unlike Sasha Baron Cohen with a beard – told the woman that when her husband hits her, she shouldn’t call the cops; she should apologize. Apologize? Yes. He cited what he called “a very fine hadith,” which, according to him, says in effect that a good wife responds to spousal abuse by telling her husband: “I’m sorry, I just can’t sleep until you’re satisfied with me.”
That was the overall pattern. There were exceptions. “It doesn’t matter if he ends up in prison,” said the counselor at the Islamic Cultural Center in Rinkeby when asked about how to deal with domestic violence. “You must report him to the police.” (Curiously, of all the mosques, this is the one that has the reputation of being the most conservative; I couldn’t help wondering if he’d figured out that his visitor was wearing a wire.)
The final score: at six out of the ten mosques, the woman was told that it was her duty to submit to sex with her husband. At six, she was told not to report spousal abuse to the police; at two others, the advice she received was vague or contradictory; only at two mosques was she told to go to the police. And at nine out of ten, she was told that her husband has the right to take four wives.
All of this advice, as Uppdrag: Granskning duly noted – and as the mosque employees certainly understood – is in explicit violation of Swedish law. And these mosques, as was pointed out on the program more than once, receive generous financial support from the Swedish government.
After the women had finished making their rounds, a male reporter for Swedish TV visited the Stockholm Mosque, where, in a sit-down interview, he told Abdallah Salla of Sweden’s Islamic Federation that a woman had asked an official of that mosque, Mahmood Adam, for counsel. He told Salla what Adam had said, whereupon Salla got Adam on the phone and, after a brief conversation, assured the reporter that Adam had never said any such things. Such advice, he insisted, would be utterly counter to Islam, which, he explained, is all about democracy, sexual equality, and so on. At which point the reporter, in classic 60 Minutes fashion, whipped out his laptop and confronted Salla with a video of Adam saying everything he’d denied saying.
What followed was instructive. First Salla tried to argue that Adam hadn’t really said what he’d said. When the reporter confronted him with the absurdity of this claim, a cowed, defensive Salla agreed to meet with him and Adam the next morning to discuss the matter. But when the reporter showed up the next morning, Salla, now in a thoroughly aggressive mode, said that the plans had been changed. Adam would not be coming; there would be no meeting; the mosque would perform its own internal investigation. And he would not be giving any more interviews to the media.
And that was that.
The only surprising thing about this program is that Swedish national TV broadcast it at all, given that it violates the see-no-evil policy on Islam that has guided that country’s politics and journalism from the git-go. How, one wonders, did the producers get away with this? Part of the answer is that the program’s emphasis on the mosques’ unequal treatment of women made it far more acceptable than it might have been had the mosques been criticized from another angle. Sweden, after all, prides itself on the notion that it is (as we were reminded at the beginning of the program) the country in the world in which men and women enjoy the greatest equality. Which trumps which in Sweden: multicultural blindness toward Islamic misogyny or the proud Swedish tradition of equal rights for women? The producers of Uppdrag: Granskning were plainly betting on the latter.
In addition, the producers manifestly strove to frame the program not as an attack on Islam but as a criticism of rogue mosques by “good” Muslims and their allies in the name of “true” Islam. Viewers were informed at the outset that one of the two women in burkas is a Muslim and that the other is an ex-Muslim. The producers also granted a prominent role to Mohammad Fazlhashemi, a Muslim historian of Islam, whom they presented as a personification of decent, moderate, democratic, law-abiding Swedish Islam, and whom they kept cutting back to: instead of having an infidel Swede comment on the counsel given to the women at the various mosques, the producers accorded that role to Fazlhashemi, who smoothly argued that the unfortunate statements made by the men at the mosques to the undercover women in burka only fuel the fire of Islam’s enemies, including the Muslim-haters in the Swedish Democrat Party. By giving such counsel, lamented Fazlhashemi, his fellow Muslims “live up to all the prejudices of the Islamophobes.” Thus did the producers manage to affirm their abhorrence for “Islamophobia” and their solidarity with “good” Muslims like Fazlhashemi.
Whatever. At least it got the show on TV. But whether it will make any difference is, I would guess, doubtful. I hope I’m wrong. But Sweden is a tough case. And in Britain, as noted, where the media are a lot more open about these things, the only people who ended up in trouble with the law as a result of Undercover Mosque were its producers. Heaven only knows what’s in store for the gutsy folks at Uppdrag: Granskning.
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