Six go on trial in Sweden terrorism case

One of the suspects is also believed to have been in contact with Rakhmat Akilov, above, a radicalized Uzbek asylum seeker who mowed down pedestrians in Stockholm in April 2017, killing five people. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2019
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Six go on trial in Sweden terrorism case

  • The prosecution claims that the six men sent funds to Daesh to finance its terrorism operations
  • One of the suspects is also believed to have been in contact with radicalized asylum seeker Rakhmat Akilov

STOCKHOLM: Six Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals living in Sweden went on trial in Stockholm on Monday accused of financing terrorism, three of them also charged with planning a terror attack.
“If the terrorist crime had been carried out, it could have seriously hurt Sweden,” the prosecution said in its charge sheet.
The first day of the trial focused on the prosecution’s claim that the six men sent funds to Daesh to finance its terrorism operations.
The prosecution argued that one of the men, 34-year-old Akromion Ergashev of Uzbekistan, sent almost 18,000 kronor ($2,000) to a middleman in Turkey, who in turn sent it to two Daesh supporters in Syria.
The prosecution presented chats on encrypted mobile phone apps and account statements as evidence.
The other five suspects were identified in court documents as Uzbek nationals Bakhtior Umarov, 30, Gulom Tadjiyev, 39, Shoahmad Mahmudov, 24, and David Idrisson, 46, and 39-year-old Kyrgyz national Atabek Abdullayev.
Abdullayev, Idrisson and Umarov are also accused of planning a terror attack in Sweden.
The prosecution believes they acquired large amounts of chemicals to make explosives, as well as gas masks, walkie-talkies and other military materials as part of their plot.
Photographs of crowded locations in Stockholm were found in some of the suspects’ phones, suggesting they may have been possible targets, according to the prosecution.
During a police raid in Stromsund, 600 kilometers north of Stockholm, in late April, neighbors told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper they saw police removing about 15 large plastic chemical containers from a shed on an empty property.
One of the suspects is also believed to have been in contact with Rakhmat Akilov, a radicalized Uzbek asylum seeker who mowed down pedestrians in Stockholm with a stolen truck in April 2017, killing five people.
Akilov was sentenced to life in prison in June 2018.
All six reject all of the charges against them.
The trial is taking place at a special high-security Stockholm courtroom, with the defendants sitting behind a bulletproof glass wall.


Malaysian religious chiefs probe new book on shedding hijab

Updated 7 min 39 sec ago
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Malaysian religious chiefs probe new book on shedding hijab

KUALA LUMPUR: Religious authorities in Malaysia have launched an investigation into a new book about Muslim women who refuse to wear a hijab.
The official probe, which has caused outrage among women’s rights groups, was sparked after author Maryam Lee held a launch event last Saturday for her book “Unveiling Choice.”
Human rights activist Lee’s bookstore forum on de-hijabbing, held in Selangor, included a panel session during which three women spoke about their experiences relating to the removal of the headscarf.
Officials from the Malaysian state’s Islamic affairs department later obtained copies of the book, in which Lee tells of her personal journey to shed the hijab, and an inquiry has since been launched.
Malaysian religious affairs minister, Dr. Mujahid Yusof Rawa, said the matter was being taken “seriously” but he expected authorities in Selangor to carry out a “fair” investigation.
The incident has prompted a national public debate on the issue of control over the women’s attire.
Lee told Arab News that she decided to write about de-hijabbing in Malaysia because the topic has been marginalized. “Muslim-majority Malaysia does not believe that there are Muslim women silently suffering from various forms of gender-based violence and coercion. The hijab is one of them,” she said.
The 27-year-old writer said that wearing the headscarf can be a traumatizing experience for many Muslim women. “Society doesn’t believe this is happening, which is why there is a need for women to start speaking the truth,” added Lee.
Sixty percent of the multi-cultural Malaysian population are Muslims. However, the country’s Islamic affairs are governed by a centralized bureaucratic system under the scope of the Malaysian Islamic Department.
Lee said: “Whenever women in this country de-hijab, they get harassed constantly. They are seen as crazy, needing guidance and correction. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with them.”
Prior to the 1980s, it was a rare sight for Muslim women in Malaysia to don the hijab, although some opted for a loose shawl covering some of the head. However, as more Malaysian students opted to study in the Middle East they were inspired by revolution and today many Muslims in the country see wearing the hijab as an integral part of the religion.
“This is probably the first time that the government has taken action over women telling their stories of de-hijabbing,” said Lee. “We have not broken any laws, and if we had they would have known what to investigate us for.”
Rawa said: “The ministry has communicated with the Selangor State Islamic Department (JAIS), as this matter is beyond our jurisdiction because the forum was held in Selangor.”
Lee said that on Tuesday JAIS had visited the store which had hosted her forum to gain copies of the book and talk to shop representatives.
Opinion on social media was divided.
@ladymissazira said: “Whether you like it or not, there is need for discussion around tudung/hijab as long as there are familial, social and safety consequences toward not wearing it.”
@zhukl said: “I first wore hijab at age eight when I was forced to stand outside the classroom in my new school because I was wearing a pinafore uniform. I cried when I returned home and asked (for my parents) to get me a modest garment and hijab.”
@HilalAsyraf said: “I suggest halting any investigation and restriction, however Dr. Mujahid Rawa should participate in the forum as a panel and debate with them. They should no longer play the ‘victim card’ as if they are oppressed by patriarchy and the government.”