The Swedish branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir* has urged local Muslims to boycott the upcoming general election in September within the framework of a campaign billed "Use your voice, but not for elections," Swedish Radio reported.
In a video published on the organization's Facebook page, the Islamist organization enlightened "brothers" that voting is "haram," that is forbidden according to Islam's teachings. According to the video, any legislation not based on Allah's teachings is prohibited.
The organization also resorted to street activism, handing out leaflets in various parts of Sweden. The leaflets includes catchphrases such as "Western policy — No, thanks," the tabloid daily Aftonbladet reported. The leaflets also inform that voting for anyone who represents "kufr" (unbelief) is forbidden.
In a comment to Aftonbladet, Hizb ut-Tahrir claimed its goal was to "maintain Muslims' Islamic identity" and to "protect them from Western and non-Islamic values." According to the comment, the message of the ongoing campaign is that Muslims should be engaged in society through methods other than voting.
According to Kirstine Sinclair, an associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Southern Denmark and the author of a book on Hizb ut-Tahrir, the campaign is fully in line with the group's ideology and working methods applied throughout the world.
"Hizb ut-Tahrir members are convinced they can establish a fairer Muslim state, a caliphate," Kirstine Sinclair said. According to her, they specifically focus on reaching out to young people in order to spread the message that Hizb ut-Tahrir can offer a fairer society. "What they are trying to do is find proof of injustice and use it to propagate for a fairer Muslim state," Sinclair explained.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an international pan-Islamist organization that aims to establish a Muslim state and enforce an Islamic way of life through Sharia law. While banned in the majority of Arab countries (with only a few exceptions), as well as in Russia, Germany and China, the organization remains active in vast parts of Europe, including Scandinavia. Hizb ut-Tahrir's Scandinavian headquarters is in Denmark, with smaller branches existing in Norway and Sweden. Its membership in Scandinavia remains undisclosed.
According to Kirstine Sinclair, the group isn't violent, but holds an anti-Semitic and a homophobic set of beliefs.
The number of Muslims in Sweden has been estimated at 800,000, or 8 percent of the country's population of about 10 million. In previous elections, Sweden's Muslims have been voting overwhelmingly left-wing, with the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left being their parties of choice.
* Hizb ut-Tahrir is an extremist organization banned in Russia