I’m more worried today than I was a year ago, says Mona Sahlin. Former Social Democrat party leader Mona Sahlin is Sweden’s official coordinator against violent extremism. Mona Sahlin’s vision of Sweden has changed due to her mandate as the coordinator against violent extremism, she says in a stunning interview with the Swedish newspaper Expressen, where she admits that the Swedish immigration policy in general has failed.
– When I talk to a preschool teacher who says that kids at her kindergarten are playing ISIS outside, or when I hear about young people who ask: “Are you Sunni or Shia?”, then it has gone much further than I thought, she says.
Why has this trend been able to go under the radar?
– A large part of the authorities in Sweden have abdicated our suburbs. And we are also afraid to touch issues regarding religion. The debate stops because we are too ignorant and too cowardly to challenge the extreme interpretation of a religion that ISIS is based upon, and which also exists in our country.
How do you think that the Muslim community has handled the rejection of IS?
– Many disagree (with IS), but too few are engaged in the public debate. If it is a distorted view of Islam that allows young guys to travel to join IS, then the religious leaders must say so. They will hardly listen to me who wear sneakers and jeans.
You’ve had a long political career. Are you self-critical, – and for the Social Democrats – over how it has become?
– When it comes to the honor culture, I curse myself, the social democratic movement and society in general. It was an example of how we conscious chickened out of a discussion because we were afraid of being associated with the wrong debaters. And therefore we failed the vulnerable girls.
– Integration has also been a failure. There, the Socialist Party gave a picture of us, where we were so much more successful and skilled at countering both class inequalities and gender differences than we actually were. And it has hurt the integration debate very much.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist about the future?
– I do not know. I’m more worried today than I was a year ago. On the other hand, I see more people doing fantastic work. If I’ll be honest, I’m very ambivalent. But I’m a realist when I say that I believe we can and will do more.