Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Sweden: A Newspaper Blog for Ramadan

As Iftar – the daily breaking of the fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan – is quickly approaching, Swedish society is reflecting on how to adapt to the traditions of “new Swedes”, and are making their own efforts to celebrate and mark Muslim holidays.

The second largest Swedish daily newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, has launched a Ramadan blog [SWE], where three practising Muslim bloggers – a policeman, a student, and a lawyer – reflect on everyday life throughout the Holy Month. Subjects span the high and low in an attempt to portray what it means to be Muslim in Swedish society today.

The bloggers usually write in their own group blog, Betraktarens Öga: “In the Eye of the Beholder”.

The relationship between Islam and Swedish society is not without tensions. It's arguable that Muslim celebrations in Sweden did not emanate from the tolerance many Swedes like to pride themselves on, but rather for commercial reasons. Big food chains now market halal meat, and other religiously permissible foods, and the trend has spread to other parts of commerce, which also attempt to meet the demands of the growing number of Muslim consumers in Sweden.

Yesterday, blogger Cherin Awad commented on the Prime Minister's visit to a halal slaughterhouse:

“Såg att vår statsminister igår var och besökte ett halal-slakteri (finns inte alltför många i Sverige). Om ramadan sa han att det kunde jämföras som en vit vecka och på frågan om han själv trodde att han skulle fixa att fasta svarade han att “bara han gav sig den på´t så..” Coolt. Snacka om att plocka pluspoäng hos en grupp som kanske inte har det största förtroendet hos de blå. Good boy. (…) ska jag ändå passa på att skvallra lite om att några av er läsare lite längre fram kommer ges möjligheten att prova på att vara muslim för en dag med allt vad bön, fasta och moskébesök innebär. Men ingen tvångskonvertering. Wallah, jag lovar! Mer info om hur man ansöker kommer längre fram. Statsministern kanske är intresserad av att vara med?”

“Saw that our Prime Minister visited a halal slaughterhouse yesterday – (there aren't too many in Sweden). About Ramadan, he said that it could be compared to an abstinence week, and to the question of whether he himself could cope with fasting, he replied that, “If he only went in for it…” Cool. Talk about picking up plus points from a group that may not have the greatest confidence in the conservatives. Good boy. (…) anyway I am going to blab a little to you, that later on some of you readers will be given the chance to be a Muslim for a day with all the prayer, fasting and visits to the Mosque. But no forced conversions. Wallah, I promise! More info on how to apply will follow later on. Maybe the Prime Minister is interested in joining us?”

Other topics the bloggers have explored are the thoughts of a Swedish Muslim student studying human rights, reaching out to Guantánamo prisoners bereft of those very rights. Then, a recipe for an energy drink, to better prepare for the fasting season. Subjects span all aspects of life during Ramadan, so shwei, shwei – little by little – Swedes might still get the hang of it.

Are Swedish blogger reactions as merciful as befits this time of year? The overwhelming impression is silence. Well, not total silence…

Bloggers Homan Anwari och Semus (SEMUS=Secular Moslems in Sweden) welcome the new Ramadan blog as does Mötesplatsen Fred (Meeting Place for Peace). Meanwhile, Jan Kallberg flogs the idea, comparing it to letting right-wing Christian Evangelists get access to the usually secular Swedish media arena.

Is this merely the silence before the storm? Possibly…

Intolerance and xenophobia is apparently on the rise in Sweden, at least if taking opinion polls and public support for far-right wing parties seriously. As the Ramadan blog started only yesterday, with the rise of the new crescent moon signaling the coming season, much may still happen.

Will blogging about Swedish Ramadan realities change the views of “native Swedes” about Islam in society? It is hard to tell… One thing is sure though. It will take ages before Swedes learn to say “Atyab at-tihani bi-munasabat hulul shahru Ramadan al-Mubarak” (The most precious congratulations on the occasion of the coming of Ramadan).

14 comments

  • Happy Ramadan Sweden!

  • “Ramadan karim!” to you too Solana as well as all you readers out there.

    Yours,

    Vilhelm

  • Interesting post – thank you!

  • Samir

    I cannot beleive a blog on Ramadan in the land of Ingmar Bergman. What is the world coming to?

  • It’s a small world after all!
    Ramadan Karim Vilhelm!

  • sabir

    Ramadan mubarak

  • Thanks for sharing.

    This is what I wrote about Ramadan last year:

    One of the beautiful things about our Ramadan is that it is celebrated all over the world: from Malmö in the North to Johansberg in the South, from Tokyo in the East to San Fransisco in the West. In Baghdad and Islamabad, in Kabul and Istanbul, in Washington and Wellington, in Nablus and Los Angeles, in Cairo and Ontario, in Warsaw and Arkansas, in Mecca and Dakka, in Izmir and Tangier, in Aukland and Portland, in Berlin and Beijing, everywhere you go you’ll find people –no matter how many they are– fasting from dawn to dusk, asking Allah’s forgiveness. They remind the world that it’s Allah Who is the Lord of the World, not America or NATO. Anyone can fast Ramadan. Even Christians join their Muslim neighbours in the fast of Ramadan in some parts of the world just as Muslims share with them Christmas and any other celebrations. They don’t care of those who kill each other in the name of God, be they in the right or in the wrong. They only care about pleasing God, Who, they know, does not want them to starve themselves for the sake of starving, but to educate them, to make them feel hungry and thirsty so that they realize how much God is bountiful towards man by providing him with all kinds of food and drink, which he tends to take for granted, and therefore they should give thanks to the One Who made them and provided them with all means of subsistence. By feeling hungry and thirsty themselves, those who fast would remember that while they are expecting to eat and drink at iftar at dusk, many people just won’t have anything to eat that day or won’t be able to eat every day, and they would realize that water, which is taken for granted in many countries, is a scarce commodity in many others. By fasting, those who fast remember God for hours and days, Him Who always remembers the faithful. And many, many people come to Allah during Ramadan. At no other time of year are mosques more full and lively than in Ramadan. At no other time of year is the Holy Koran more read than in Ramadan. At no other time of year are the poor, the homeless, the orphans remembered and cared for than in Ramadan. In Ramadan mercy and compassion descend upon the Earth. In Ramadan curiosity arises among those who believe in Scientology or those who believe they descended from a monkey, or those who believe the World was made by chance, or those who believe there’s just no God and no life after death.

    http://salamlayla.blogspot.com/2007/09/salam-layla-8_16.html

  • Samir

    Ramadhan played a small part in me leaving islam. I do not know where you lived mister nasama, but in my case it was denial in the morning until sunset and gluttonary and fornication (or attempt to catch prey) during the night. The passions are hard to tame, I guess. As for your elaborate spiritual and cleansing functions of ramadhan, it is an ideal and the real.

  • akhter

    Salamo Alaykum to you all , i was thrilled to read about you people, thanks for sharing and also thanks to the kind People of Sweden for having you there , Happy Ramazan, and may Allah bless you all.

  • wei

    i am a buddhist ,Buddha bless u

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.