One refused to shake hands with a female journalist. Another compared Israel to Nazi Germany. A third was seen doing hand signs associated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in the background of a live TV broadcast.
The behavior of some Muslim members of Sweden’s Green Party, which is part of a coalition government since 2014, has sparked concerns that the small environmentalist group may have been infiltrated by Islamists.
It also has triggered a wider discussion about whether Sweden has tried so hard to be inclusive and tolerant toward migrants that it’s failed to stand up for its own feminist ideals.
“In our eagerness to embrace a diverse and multicultural society, we have turned a blind eye to undemocratic views,” said Gulan Avci, a Stockholm city councilwoman for the Liberals, a center-right opposition party.
Green Party leaders said Monday there’s no evidence of Islamists influencing party policies, but admitted the party needs a “reset” with greater focus on environmental issues.
The party’s problems started when Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan, a Green Party member and former leader of a Swedish Muslim youth group, resigned last week after media reports that he had contacts with ultra-nationalists and Islamists in his native Turkey. Though he denied any wrongdoing and the party leadership defended him until the end, he stepped down when a video surfaced of Kaplan comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to how the Nazis persecuted Jews.