Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sweden takes aim at Islamic honor crimes

Karl Ritter:

The oppression of women and girls in the name of family honor has become an urgent problem in Sweden with the arrival of growing numbers of immigrants over the past few years, the country‘s integration minister said Tuesday.

Sabuni has angered many Muslims in the past by calling for a ban on headscarves for teenage girls in Sweden.

Many European countries have reported so-called honor crimes, in which women are punished or even killed by relatives for committing adultery or violating other sexual mores. But Sabuni, who took office with the center-right government in October, said the problem was much bigger than the handful of murders that have gained major media attention in Sweden in recent years.

About 12 percent of Sweden‘s 9 million residents are foreign-born, and the proportion is growing. Last year, Sweden received about 80,000 immigrants — the highest number ever — led by an influx of Iraqi refugees.

Sabuni, who was raised in a Muslim family but considers herself an agnostic, said: "I‘m not that interested in what Islam stipulates. I am very interested in saying that some traditions, some practices are completely unacceptable and illegal."

"Everything suggests this tradition is emerging here in Sweden, it‘s not something you bring from your former home country," Sabuni said about the Islamic headscarf. "And that brings the question: What is happening in our society that makes parents put headscarves on their children?"

Sabuni said Sweden would be able to absorb the growing tide of refugees, but added that discrimination and self-imposed seclusion by some immigrants were hampering integration.

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