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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Swedish Muslims groom peace envoys

Demonstrating Islam's love for peace and harmony, Swedish Muslim leaders are grooming Muslim youths to be peace ambassadors in a country where the culture of peace is one of its key components.

"We are aiming to have 100 graduates from this course, who will be ambassadors of peace and opponents of violence," Othman Tawaleba, supervisor of the three-year course organized by the Ibn Rushed Centre, told IslamOnline.

Tawaleba said the course is one of the most important cultural projects launched by Swedish Muslims.

"It targets youths of the age group 16-25 to educate them about the culture of peace through field visits to schools, forums and brainstorming issues on contentious issues," he noted.

The Ibn Rushed Center has enlisted 15 top-notch Swedish intellectuals and scholars for the course.

"The first 25-member batch of alumni has graduated from the course and stands ready to promote peace," said Tawaleba.

Muslims make up some 200,000 of the country's nine million people, according to semi-official estimates. Leaders of the Muslim minority put the number at 400,000.

  • Common ground

Swedish Muslim leaders see the course an ideal vehicle to demonstrate that Islam and Swedish culture are wedded to the culture of non-violence and peace.

"Islam is all about peace and dialogue to achieve targeted goals," Tawaleba said.

He said peace and social harmony are deeply rooted in Sweden, just like Islam. "Peace is one of the bedrocks of Swedish society," the activist added.

Sweden is known as a mecca of peace, playing host every year to the Noble prize ceremony and became in 1950 the first country to call for a world free from nuclear weapons.

The Swedes' love for peace is represented at the heart of Stockholm in the Disarmament Sculpture or the Knotted Gun by Swedish sculptor Carl Frederick.

Sheikh Mahmoud Khalfi, the director of the main Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Stockholm, said Swedish Muslims must be lucky as their religion and country share common denominators.

"Swedes and authorities here have highly approved of the peaceful reaction of Swedish Muslims to the cartoon crisis," he said.

Tawaleba agreed: "Violence will get you no where."

Swedish Muslims refused to be provoked by the publication of a cartoon lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and displayed self-restraint.

They staged a peaceful rally in the town of Oerebro, west of Stockholm, where the paper which published the offensive cartoon is based.

They also refused to internationalize the crisis, arguing that it was an internal affair, and respected a ruling by Justice Chancellor Goeran Lambertz, who said the anti-Prophet Muhammad cartoon did not constitute incitement to racial hatred.

Khalfi said hardliners and racists are making an exception in Sweden, but they should not have the opportunity to spoil Muslim integration efforts. "We are determined to steer clear of knee-jerk or extremist reactions," he added.

Source: IslamOnline
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