Sameh Egyptson answers Mattias Gardell – who gives his closing remarks

This is a cultural article which is part of Aftonbladet’s opinion journalism.

Sameh Egyptson responds to Mattias Gardell's criticism of his thesis
Sameh Egyptson responds to Mattias Gardell’s criticism of his thesis “Global political Islam? The Muslim Brotherhood & the Islamic Federation in Sweden”, which he presented at Lund University on February 10 – and Gardell directly gives his closing remarks.

Mattias Gardell is still driving his old dark thesis that the Muslim Brotherhood, MB is most similar to Swedish Christian democracy and social democracy. He is then blind to the fact that these two parties have democracy as theirs super ideologyone is a principled democrat first and a Christian democrat or social democrat second.

With MB it is the opposite. One has sharia (Law of Allah) as overriding ideology. This means that women’s position and dress, the rules for divorce and inheritance and the separation of girls from boys are seen as societal, fundamental basic rules. Within the framework of this basic constitution, one can then imagine a (limited) pluralistic political life. Much like the political Islam that is in power in Iran or Turkey. In the thesis, I show in 175 pages how the Islamic Federation of Sweden (IFiS) has the same basic ideological view as the MB.

Just like before now defends Gardell MB in Sweden. To examine them is to “jump on Islam” or to see “alarming signs of how far the tentacles of the conspiracy have penetrated”. I am neither a conspiracy theorist nor an alarmist. I start from the latest international research literature, which Gardell does not seem to know, and map the contacts between the Islamic League in Sweden and the transnational Muslim Brotherhood piece by piece.

What my thesis is about is political Islam, MB’s ultra-conservative interpretation of the Koran. In Sweden, we have allowed MB’s organizations, led by an “inner circle”, to represent both “Muslims” and “Islam”. They are not “people’s movements”, as Gardell claims. In my thesis it appears that they are elite organizations, led by a few leaders and that the number of people who are members is vanishingly small, as is the number of mosque visits. It is clear that many Muslims in Sweden, or secular immigrants from Muslim countries, want nothing to do with both these organizations and this ultra-conservative view of society.

Sameh Egyptson
Doctor of Theology in Interreligious Relations

ANSWER DIRECTLY No, I do not sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood

In his thesis, Sameh Egyptson demonstrated the ability to formulate accusations based on insufficient or misinterpreted empirical evidence. So also in this reply. I do not “defend” the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden. However, I have researched the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as one of the many forms of political Islam I studied from a religious historical perspective in 2003–2006 (see Bin Laden in our heartsLeopard 2005).

Since I was appointed professor at Uppsala University in 2006, my research was directed towards other projects (torture history, Islamophobia, race warriors, hate crimes, racism, fascism, political nostalgia). Characteristic of my research is that it examines ideologies and movements not sympathize with. By conversing with thinkers and activists and studying their texts, art, music and actions, I try to understand how and why they see the world the way they do and find it important that they recognize themselves when they read what I have come up with, even if they do not share my analysis. Then it is not enough to impose opinions on people that they do not have, quote errors, change the context and facts.

Egyptson does all this but fails to substantiate the thesis that the Muslim Brotherhood secretly established its organization in Sweden. We already knew that there are Swedish Muslims who are inspired by the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader. There is much to study here if you step out of the rabbit hole and take socially engaged Swedish Muslims seriously. What does the idea of ​​political Islam mean as a democratic “middle way” in concrete issues? What does Islamic democracy have to say about the climate crisis, gang crime, public transport, equal working conditions, care and health?

Fragments of answers are found in the material Egyptson produced but are obscured by his belief that they are just lies.

Mattias Gardell

Professor religious studies, Uppsala University

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