Haaretz reports today that Sweden’s far-right have organised a gay pride parade which will march through Muslim-majority districts Tensta and Husby in Stockholm. The Israeli media outlet states:
The organizer of the march, Jan Sjunnesson, is the former editor of the far-right Sweden Democrats’ newspaper, the Samtiden. The Sweden Democrats are known for their anti-immigration policies, and came out strongly in support of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten when it published cartoons derogatively depicting the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.
‘Expression of pure racism’
The scheduled march has been criticized as provocative and racist by those on the left, with angry comments appearing on the event’s Facebook page. Two residents of the Jarva area, Noah Nord and Emelie Mårtensson, claim that ‘Jarva Pride’ “pits two oppressed groups against each other,” and have organized a counter-demonstration.
One person to defend the march is evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins, who slammed criticism of the event as emblematic of “the pathetic Left.”
Homophobia is clearly abhorrent, however bigotry towards LGBT peope is rife in all societies; some well-known examples being in Poland, Russia and many states in the US. In America embracing homophobia is part of the country’s mainstream political discourse – you only need to listen to the reaction of many Republican presidential hopefuls to understand that.
Thus by singling out Muslims it is obvious that this event has been planned with the aim of causing trouble. Ironically, the leader of the Sweden Democrats – Jimmie Åkesson – was barred from attending Stockholm Pride, the largest pride festival in Scandinavia, last year. English language Swedish paper The Local reported:
“The management of Stockholm Pride has decided that the Sweden Democrats do not share our values and therefore are not welcome,” Maria Paulsson, press secretary at Stockholm Pride, told Dagens Opinion earlier this month. She said no other organizations were banned, as far as she knew.
“It’s not primarily because of their stance on family and LGBT issues, but because we see them as a racist party, and the LGBT fight and the fight against racism go hand and hand,” Sandra Ehne, chairman of Stockholm Pride, told The Local.
Ehne stressed that Stockholm Pride is a non-profit association consisting of many members, and that it aims to be a safe community for its members.
“Their politics are built on racist grounds, and these grounds usually include homophobia. We do not want to give our platform to a party which works against us throughout the year. And our members need to feel safe,” Ehne concluded.
Therefore it seems clear that Pride Järva has been specifically designed to antagonise a minority, or indeed, as Noah Nord and Emelie Mårtensson say, to target not one oppressed group but two. Just as with Charlie Hebdo, the creators had the right to draw Mohammed. But since then, with the proliferation of ‘draw Mohammed cartoon contests’ – usually with Geert Wilders in attendance – these events are concocted by bigots hoping for a negative if not violent reaction, in order to vindicate their own prejudices about Muslims.
Those of us on “the pathetic Left” must condemn homophobia, just as we must condemn all types of intolerance – including that towards Muslims. It is not exactly difficult to understand why we sympathise with and feel the need to defend Muslims living in the West: because they are marginalised members of society and are becoming increasingly more so.
It is evident – though it is not mentioned by politicians nor covered by the media – that the real problem facing Europe comes from the far-right, not the so-called ‘Muslim threat’.