A Statement by the Islamic leaders in Scandinavia

To His Majesty the King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia
And To the Honorable Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden

At the conclusion of the Scandinavian symposium “Muslims and Freedom of Speech,” which organized by Alrisalah Scandinavian Foundation, in the city of Örebro, Sweden on Sunday, March 22, 2015, in which a number of Islamic in Scandinavian leaders participated, the participants issued a Statement regarding the disagreement and tension between Sweden and Saudi Arabia, due to previous declarations made by Swedish Foreign Minister on the status of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. The Statement reads:

The historical relationship between the two kingdoms is solid and based upon an authentic tradition, cooperation and mutual respect between the two countries. This relationship lasted for decades, and there are common business interests and joint cooperation within the fields of science, culture and civilization between the two countries. There is no doubt that these relations have a clear impact in strengthening cultural exchanges and co-existence, and supporting the dialogue between people from different denominations. The world has witnessed the significant role, played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, regarding the global dialogue between religions, the fight against extremism and terrorism, and the rejection of violence in all its forms. There is no doubt that Sweden too plays an important role in promoting dialogue and renouncing violence and terrorism. The two countries share the same pursuit of ensuring world peace and security. Hence, there is a fair chance to solve any problem or dispute, arising from media statements, which do not serve the interests of both countries.

Mutual respect is the only way to reach a serious understanding of disputed issues between the two countries. We are confident that our government in Sweden will reexamine the matter and search for an urgent and reliable solution to adjust the relationship with this important nation.

Accordingly, Swedish Muslim citizens appeal to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to resolve the issue by resorting to the good old Swedish spirit of rationality and moderation that has characterized the governments of Sweden throughout history. And this necessitates a quick move to limit the fallout of the crisis between our homeland Sweden and Saudi Arabia, which, by the way, enjoys a special status among Muslims because of the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam and the focal point for Muslims when performing their ritual prayers, and the mosque of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Saudi Arabia substantiates the religious depth of Muslim believers. As Swedish Muslim citizens, we are worried about the economic and commercial interests of our fellow Swedish compatriots in Saudi Arabia. We do not want them to be involved in economic loss, or economic harm, that inevitably will affect our country, Sweden’s, economy. Given our commitment to abide by the decisions of our Swedish government and preserve our economic and cultural interests and relations that are based on mutual respect, we hope to be reconciled with Saudi Arabia and resolve the dispute through diplomatic channels and cross-cultural relations. We are willing, as participants in the symposium, to take positive action in supporting the Swedish government’s efforts to resolve the issue and mediate by taking measures in order to defuse the issue and reduce its harmful effects on both parties.

The participants at the symposium appeal to King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to contribute to the resolution of this issue, especially since Sweden was one of the first countries that embraced persecuted Arabs and Muslims from all over the world, granting them safety, freedom and a decent living, so they became a significant part of Swedish society. Sweden granted Muslims numerous facilities in order to build centers, mosques and Islamic schools. It allowed Saudi Arabia to give support to Muslim minorities and construct mosques, chief among them is His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud’s mosque (may God have mercy on him) in the city of Gothenburg. As well, the Swedish government supports Muslim religious activities in the same manner they do concerning other religious denominations in accordance with government laws and regulations. Swedish Muslims enjoy extended rights and advantages in the community. They are represented within different authorities and parliamentary committees. Thus, we are full of hope that the wisdom of His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia will overcome this dispute and that the King will address the appropriate authorities to take steps that would restore the friendly relations between the two countries, bringing it back to how it was previously, including the return of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Ibrahim Bin Saad Al Ibrahim, to Sweden.

We would like to point out that Swedish citizens harbor respect and appreciation to Saudi Arabia and believe that their fellow Muslim compatriots are well respected by His Majesty the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, whom we would like to undertake measures to bring the relations back to normal, including the return of foreign delegations and companies to the two countries.

We hope that Sweden’s Secretary of State Margot Wallström will organize a conference this year on tolerance and peace similar to the one held years ago on Islam and Europe. The present conference should take place under the leadership of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and King Carl XVI Gustaf and involve political, intellectual and religious figures of the two countries and the rest of the world, including the Secretary General of the United Nations. As for the agenda of the conference, it should embrace intercultural exchanges, among other things. We believe that such a conference will lay the bases for a serious and constructive dialogue with the Arab and Islamic world.

The participants at the symposium “Muslims and Freedom of Speech”:

Mahmoud Al Debee: Chairman of the Salam Foundation for Relief and Human Rights

Hussein Al Daoudi: Deputy Secretary General and Executive director of Al Risalah Scandinavian Foundation

Shaheen Mahmoud: Director of Education at Al Risalah Scandinavian Foundation

Fahd al Haji: Director of the division of culture and cross-cultural communication

Hazem al Hariri: General supervisor of the city of Flen’s endowment and director of the project committee and foreign relations in the Islamic Cultural Center in Örebro

Ali Salah Ahmad: Chairman of the Arab Cultural Center in Örebro and expert in media communication

Thamer Abul Einein: Official news reporter at the Human Rights organization in Geneva

Saleh Buzaynah: Shaykh, imam and preacher in the South of Sweden, Helsingborg

Oamr Noor Abdellatif: Imam of the mosque in Lund, South of Sweden

Muhammad Zaydan: Al Amanah endowment in Larvik, Norway

Hussein Al-Essa: PublicRelations Secretary at Al Risalah Scandinavian Foundation

Kamel Imara: Shaykh and Preacher in Oslo, Norway

Karim Askary: Executive director of Iceland’s Islamic endowment

March 22, 2015
The Head Quarter of Alrisalah Scandinavian Foundation, Örebro, Sweden