Sweden Set To Join NATO Despite Pressure From Muslim Countries

Muslim countries pressure Europe to become more like them.

On Monday: Turkey agreed to remove obstacles to Sweden's potential NATO membership. The path to this point has been fraught with controversy. Sweden’s approval was in jeopardy as Turkey, a heavily Islamic country, wanted the Swedish government to fight Islamophobia by blocking peaceful anti-Muslim demonstrations. Sweden believes doing so would violate free speech rights.

Historical context: Sweden has a reputation for accepting loads of refugees, and many have been Muslim. Over 8 percent of the country is now Muslim. Sweden's prime minister has linked the massive influx of immigrants to a rise in gang violence and segregated societies. Widespread rioting in response to planned Quran burnings exacerbated the situation last year. Though Europe values liberalism and tolerance, not all cultural and religious traditions do too, with Islam as an example.

Europe’s clash with Islam: The European Union’s aggressive push to import Muslim refugees over the last decade, their refusal to assimilate, and their perceived association with crime have led to a surge in right-wing populism throughout most of Europe. See our coverage of recent Islamic immigrant riots in France, for example. Germany, England, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, and more have similar issues. At least 15 European countries have banned wearing burqas, showing that the backlash isn’t new.

Why it matters: The Muslim world aligns with Europe’s new class of Muslim citizens and isn’t afraid to use diplomatic levers to show it. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan all condemned Sweden, and Pakistan even held anti-Sweden protests. There’s a mismatch of values; Europeans are voting to limit Islam and protect criticism of it. Muslim countries are pressuring Europe to restrict criticism, with Turkey even stalling Sweden’s chance to enter NATO.