When Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallström criticized Saudi Arabia’s oppressive treatment of women and its cruelty toward Raif Badawi, sentenced to receive ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for the crime of championing secularism and free speech on the web, she set off a huge backlash that has jeopardized Sweden’s economy.
It seems that Wallström’s proclamation of the facts that Saudi Arabia:
…prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and…forces…girls…into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men…
didn’t sit too well with the theocracy or its allies in the rest of the Islamic world, for according to Salon,
Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’…and…the Gulf Co-operation Council condemned her ‘unaccept-able interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’
And it didn’t stop there, the Jerusalem Post reports that “Saudi Arabia blocked Wallström’s scheduled appearance at a meeting of the Arab League” and:
Saudi media went on the attack and pointedly reminded Stockholm that it had more to lose – the balance of trade between the two countries heavily favoring Sweden.
So where was the support for Wallström in all this? Everything she said is true of the desperately draconian theocracy that is Saudi Arabia, yet this incident was mostly ignored in the West and barely reported by its media. Faced with a formalized version of the bullying behaviour demonstrated among those that masacre people who draw cartoons or attempt to silence the conversation with cries of “racism”, Wallström had no choice but to backpeddle:
…Wallström, summoned to the parliament, valiantly tried to stress that Saudi Arabia was a very important factor in the Middle East, a major player in the region and in the world and that good relations with that country were important and valued by Sweden.
She declared that she was convinced that these good relations would soon be restored, adding that she never criticized Islam and did not intent to offend Saudi Arabia. ..
Furthermore, she said that she supported the dialogue between religions in Sweden itself and that considerable funds were allocated to Muslims to help them play a greater role in Swedish society. There were such fulsome expressions of affection and praise for Islam and Saudi Arabia that one could have been pardoned for thinking that Sweden had no truer friend.
And that is how free speech dies and secular values along with it. Even in Sweden, speech that criticizes barbaric acts of a theocracy based on bronze age ideals, can be easily silenced. Will the West give up everything it holds dear to secure Saudi Arabia’s oil?