Margot Wallström: a Voice in the Wilderness Bullied into Silence

by | March 29, 2015

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?

19 thoughts on “Margot Wallström: a Voice in the Wilderness Bullied into Silence

  1. Diane Garlick

    That’s disgusting. ”

    “…failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’…”

    Basically, it’s all about “respecting” the rich. Period.

    1. Heather Hastie

      Disgusting – that’s exactly the word that came to my mind as I read this.

      Ms Wallström is effectively being convicted without trial for blasphemy, and Sweden doesn’t even have a blasphemy law.

      Watch this female lecturer on Islamic Studies in full niqab insist Islam treats women equally:

      You will not believe what she says, especially when it comes to legal rights. I’d say you can’t believe she can say it with a straight face, but she can’t see her face.

      Great piece Diana – I’ve tweeted it.

      1. Diane Garlick

        OMG that video is appalling. Even her eyes are partially covered! It’s really sickening how the male interviewer makes a show of looking concerned, and the contrast of his western dress with her shroud is even more stomach-turning.

        Have you thought of sending that to Jerry?

        1. Heather Hastie

          The contrast between his dress and hers was one of the things that really struck me too, apart from what she was saying. And him, as you say, being all sympathetic about these terrible people saying she doesn’t have equal rights. Talk about cognitive dissonance. It’s not the elephant in the room, it;s the blue whale!

          I did think of sending it to Jerry but didn’t because Malgorzota subscribes to MEMRI too, which is where I got it, and she sends him the best (or worst!) or their stuff, and I didn’t want to tread on her toes.

          1. Diane Garlick

            Methinks the Stockholm Syndrome is strong with the shrouded woman as well.

            I don’t think Malgorzata is as interested in the women’s oppression stuff as she is in threats to Jews and Israel. She probably doesn’t want to inundate him with too many submissions, which would leave you the vids of the first subject to share with Jerry.

            Which I in fact did earlier today, and his response was “That video was amazingly HORRIBLE!”

    2. Diana MacPherson

      And all that lovely relativism – you see, who are we to say it’s wrong to marry girls to old men who basically rape them?

      1. Diane Garlick

        What would we know? We’re only women who used to be girls, once.

      2. Joe

        That is not relativism, it is cowardly political appeasement.

        Relativism is about context.

        For instance, if one lives in a dangerous enviroment, one must often make hard choices in order to ensure survival both of persons and tribe. Being self -righteous about those hard choices, while sitting in the comfort of one’s living room in a safe country like Canada would be unfair. It ignores context.

        This is not the context of Saudi Arabia however, and holding outdated traditions is also not relativism.

        1. Diane Garlick

          There is no survival value about “marrying” prepubescent girls to middle-aged men. It’s a legacy of brute tribal misogyny that has no place in the 21st century. Nobody is making a “hard choice.” The girls and women have no choices, the men find it easy to choose to rape and beat them.

          1. Joe

            “There is no survival value about “marrying” prepubescent girls to middle-aged men.”

            False. Humans are social animals who are relatively weak, in the animal kingdom, both when young and in general, compared to other predators.

            Our strength, on the level of survival comes from ‘the group’ or tribe. In a survival situation appeasing the strongest(physically or socially) males is of great value. It helps keep the group strong. Sacrificing a weak member is actually pretty common in the animal kingdom. And assuming the girl survives, she would have the protection of a strong member of the tribe… whoever ‘owns’ the females is responsible for them… this a primary function of ‘marriage’.

            As I mentioned in my last comment, in the last sentence, this ‘survival situation’ is not really the situation in Saudi Arabia.

            One could make an argument about ‘cultural identity’ being important to the survival of a nation, like SA, but even Muhammad himself instituted cultural reforms related to the excesses of his time, like the limiting of wives to only 4.

            Extreme polygamy can be destabilizing to the group, unless there is a war to balance it, ie you’re sacrificing a lot of young males in your tribe.

            Of course war often also means captured females, so there might actually be value in the surviving males taking multiple wives. It means the women are not simply put to death, and the tribe can replenish its numbers more quickly.

            There are times when appeasing the strong is actually bad for the longer term survival of the group, of course. Context.

          2. Diane Garlick

            “Sacrificing a weak member is actually pretty common in the animal kingdom. And assuming the girl survives, she would have the protection of a strong member of the tribe… whoever ‘owns’ the females is responsible for them… this a primary function of ‘marriage’.”

            False. For one thing, young females are vital for reproduction; they would not be expendable as “weak members.” For another, barely post-pubescent girls are extremely likely to have serious complications during childbirth, once more destroying a valuable commodity–fertile women. Both scenarios would be maladaptive.

          3. Joe

            Survival is more than just reproduction.

            And by your logic, homosexuality is ‘maladaptive’.

            I would say that is nonsense. Like I said, humans are social animals, and social relations are complex. You can’t reduce it to individuals. That kind of thinking is very modern, but historically and across most cultures, the familial/tribal unit is what is needed and really, defines survival.

          4. Diana MacPherson

            I’m not for one minute going to buy that raping young girls is necessary for the survival of Saudi Arabia. It’s a barbaric custom as is the oppression of all women in The Kingdom and the dastardly punishments inflicted on their population for daring to speak against such barbarity.

  2. ultra

    This is just islamic activism… SJW-style. Freedom of expression is not freedom from consequences… /s

  3. Jerry Coyne

    Yes, this is appeasement of Muslims of the worst type, and I feel bad for Wallström, who was clearly forced to recant. You’ll never see Obama criticizing this kind of Saudi oppression.

    That video of the woman in full burqa was appalling, especially compared to the guy in the suit. Her rationalization of why a woman’s testimony is worth only half of a man’s is a classic example of resolving cognitive dissonance (if they even feel any dissonance). Sadly, I didn’t get the video: Malgorzata doesn’t send me even a substantial part of the gazillions of videos they vet, so do call stuff like this to my attention.

    Good job, Diana and Heather.


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