Muslims throughout the world have expressed enrage at the repeated desecration of the noble Qur’an in Sweden and Denmark. These are deliberate acts of insult meant to cause anguish and grief. It is not surprising that Muslims feel outraged.
The bigger question is, how to deal with this menace. Obviously, Muslims vent their anger by holding rallies outside Swedish or Danish missions in the countries where they reside. In Iraq they even stormed the Swedish embassy and forced the government to expel Sweden’s ambassador and recall its envoy from Stockholm. The Islamic Republic of Iran did likewise.
These are welcome steps but much more is needed. All Islamophobic acts in the west are justified under the rubric of ‘freedom of speech’. This is not absolute and they know it but is trotted out whenever Islam’s sacred book or revered personalities are insulted. This is as true of the Qur’an-burning episodes as it is of the insulting cartoons of the Prophet (pbuh) whether in Denmark or France.
Policy-makers in the west see Islam and Muslims as a threat to their way of life. The reason is that most Muslims refuse to adopt the west’s hedonistic lifestyle. Muslims want to follow the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and Seerah of the Prophet (pbuh). By their sacrilegious acts, western regimes want to demean these in the eyes of Muslims. This is not succeeding, hence the western policy-makers’ frustration and intensification of the campaign of vilification.
The collective west does not care for the sentiments of Muslims. Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Ebba Busch of the Christian Democrats said last month that Stockholm alone determines its legislation and would not be influenced by other countries’ faiths or laws. She tweeted on July 7: “Sweden does not bend its back to Islamism. Burning scriptures is reprehensible but not illegal.”
Perhaps, Ms Busch could be made to see reason if Muslims find more creative ways to convey the message that there will be costs associated with indulging in such conduct. When their pocket book is affected, they are likely to pay more attention.
This is especially true of Sweden and Denmark. Both are tiny countries and dependent on export earnings. Let us consider Sweden. The value of its exports amount to about one-third of its total GDP. Thus, Sweden is highly dependent on free international trade to maintain its living standard.
Let us identify some Swedish products that are exported worldwide.
Ericsson, the electronic company, is one of them. Volvo cars are another well-known Swedish brand. Then there is IKEA furniture as well as Swedish food products.
Ericsson’s revenues for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2023 were $26.993 billion. Many of its products are marketed and sold in the Muslim world, especially countries in West Asia as well as Southeast Asia.
The other Swedish product, Volvo, sold 615, 121 cars worldwide earning SEK 330.1 billion (US$ 41.5 billion) in 2022. While Volvo is now partly owned by a Chinese company, it still earns a lot of revenue from car sales and trucks.
And then there is IKEA furniture, another Swedish brand. It has grown rapidly to become the world’s leading furniture retail outlet in the world earning 44.9 billion euros annually (US$48 billion). IKEA employs more than 180,000 people in its 350 stores worldwide.
A well-organized campaign to boycott Swedish products would have a sobering effect on the promoters of Islamophobia. Both individual Muslims as well as Muslim governments must be part of this campaign. Muslims residing in western countries—North America, Europe and Australia—can boycott Swedish produced goods: Ericsson products, Volvo cars and IKEA furniture.
Muslim countries can ban Swedish products to force the regime in Stockholm to see the error of its ways and rectify its behaviour. In today’s world, money talks. Once the Swedish government sees a sharp decline in its revenues from exports that begin to affect the standard of living of its people, it will see reason.
At the diplomatic front, more Muslim countries must follow the example of Iraq and Islamic Iran. They should expel Swedish diplomats from their country and recall their envoys. This will show that these governments are serious about protecting the sanctity of the noble Qur’an and the honour of the Prophet (pbuh).
There is also a special responsibility that falls on the shoulders of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkiye is a member of NATO, an alliance of aggressor countries led by the US. Erdogan should make clear that he will not agree to Swedish membership of NATO unless Stockholm takes steps to stop this insulting campaign against the Qur’an.
Erdogan can redeem some honour by standing up for Islamic values and principles, at least for once. While we are not holding our breath that he will do the right thing, there is a faint chance that he might just rise to the occasion.
There are two billion Muslims in the world. They possess at least 40 percent of the world’s energy resources and 20 percent of the world’s minerals. They must leverage their strength to protect the honour of their sacred text and the revered personality of the noble Messenger (pbuh).
It is important to utilize the Muslims’ collective strength properly instead of simply holding rallies, raising fists in the air and shouting at the top of their lungs, necessary as these are. On their own, they will not produce the desire results.