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Finnish parties unruffled by Islam in politics

An informal Yle survey found that political groups in Finland haven’t given any thought to whether or not Islamic party members can hold top party leadership positions. In Sweden, the Social Democratic party recently removed a Muslim party member from the leadership when he organised an event in which women and homosexuals were denigrated.

Abdul Mannan
Abdul Mannan is an Oulu Imam and deputy chair of the local SDP party group.

In Sweden Islamic League chairman Omar Mustafa enjoyed a short term as member of the Social Democratic party council. One week after he was elected to the position, he was fired.

Mustafa had orchestrated an event for Islamic organisations, in which women were belittled and homosexuals condemned.

Oulu Social Democratic deputy chair an Imam

In Oulu, Abdul Mannan leads the northern Finland Islamic Community. He is also the second in command of the local Social Democratic party group.

“We believe the SDP is better, so we think that it’s ok to join the SDP,” Mannan told Yle.

Imam Abdul Mannan has a 12-year career in local politics under his belt. Officially, he is non-partisan, because Imams are not allowed to be party members.

All the same, he agrees with the religious scholars so hotly debated in Sweden.

“Islam does not accept homosexuality. Men and women have different responsibilities. A woman’s duty is to be a mother, a housewife, to look after her children and her family,” the Imam said.

Party officials unaware of SDP Imam

The connection between the SDP and the Oulu mosque came as a surprise to SDP party secretary Reijo Paananen. According to Paananen it was up to local party group officials to decide how to deal with the matter. The party saw no conflict between the Imam’s dual roles.

“If the local officials believe that this is within the limits of their practices, then the party won’t take any action,” Paananen said.

A devout Muslim in political leadership circles?

Recent elections have seen Finland’s political parties courting immigrant candidates. An informal survey by Yle revealed that no political party had even considered the question of a member with an Islamic background achieving a top position in the party leadership.

Most politicians did not believe that the skirmish in Sweden between mainstream politics and Islam would occur in Finland, saying that their policies would not appeal to the most extreme fundamentalists. All of the parties upheld gender equality as a basic principle.

However homosexual rights did not enjoy the same unconditional support, with most party representatives saying that a gay rights position was a personal matter.

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