Muslim Brotherhood suspected to be behind campaign of fake news on child ‘kidnappings’ in Sweden

Swedish authorities are fighting back against claims its social services are “kidnapping” Muslim children. (Adam IHSE / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP)
Swedish authorities are fighting back against claims its social services are “kidnapping” Muslim children. (Adam IHSE / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP)
Short Url
Updated 23 February 2022

Muslim Brotherhood suspected to be behind campaign of fake news on child ‘kidnappings’ in Sweden

Swedish authorities are fighting back against claims its social services are “kidnapping” Muslim children. (Adam IHSE / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP)
  • Videos began appearing on Arabic-language social media sites in late 2021 of real interventions by child welfare services
  • After Mideastern media outlets reported on the claims, Swedish government officials and social services have come out in force to deny the allegations

LONDON: A politically motivated campaign accusing child-protection authorities in Sweden of “kidnapping” children has exposed the activities of an extremist Islamist website suspectedly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is circulating fake news designed to whip up anger in minority Muslim communities around the world.

The Shuoun Islamiya (Islamic Affairs) website was set up in 2016, claiming to be “an awareness channel to spread Muslim issues and their news around the world and to confront campaigns that aim to distort the image of Islam.”

In fact, the channel has consistently distorted the reality of treatment of immigrant Muslim communities around the world, in an apparent bid to promote sectarian strife in their adoptive countries.

In Sweden, Shuoun Islamiya has found itself an ally in a fringe political party called Nyans (Nuisance), which ahead of elections in September is claiming the state is unjustifiably taking children away from their parents.

According to research by the Washington Institute’s Fikra Forum, set up to provide “on-the-ground perspectives and insight on the most pressing current events facing the Middle East,” Nyans was founded in 2019 by Mikail Yüksel, a Swedish politician of Turkish origin and is “focused on issues that its founders view as affecting Muslims in Sweden.”

Through its website and Twitter and Telegram channels, Shuoun Islamiya has kept up a steady stream of extreme content, including videos, accusing Sweden of being a fascist state where social services place Muslim children in Christian homes with paedophiles, or force them to drink alcohol and eat pork.

Unsurprisingly, Swedish government officials and social services have denied the allegations.

“We absolutely do not do that,” Migration and Integration Minister Anders Ygeman told AFP.

The only goal was to support families, he added, and the campaign was being fueled in part by “frustrated parents who have failed in their parenting” and were projecting their anger at authorities.

But “there are also malevolent forces that want to exploit these parents’ frustration to spread mistrust and division.”

Shuoun Islamiya is one of those forces and, if its objective is to stir up unwarranted outrage among the Muslim community in Sweden and around the world, it is working. Radical imams in Sweden and abroad and Muslim online influencers with millions of followers have spread the stories, sparking street protests across Sweden.

The website’s Twitter and Instagram accounts also push and promote Muslim Brotherhood salafists and loyalists, including detained Saudi extremist salafist Abdul Aziz Al-Turaife, among others.

It is unclear where Shuoun Islamiya is based. It may even be a one-man show. Its founder is listed as Mustafa Al-Sharqawi, who on his Telegram account (@MoustafaJournalist) describes himself as an “independent Muslim journalist.” He is also associated with a Telegram channel called Arab Affairs TV, which has over 17,000 subscribers.

Arab Affairs TV’s Twitter account (@Arabaffairstv) has been suspended for violating the platform’s rules, which state that users may not “threaten or promote terrorism or violent extremism”, “promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity (or) religious affiliation,” and “may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm.”

However, Shuoun Islamiya’s Twitter account (@Shuounislamiya) — which has 178,000 followers — remains active, despite a series of recent Tweets perpetuating the myth that Muslim children are being kidnapped by authorities in countries including Sweden, Japan and Germany.

It is clear that its activities are creating division between Swedish communities. One response earlier this month, apparently from a Swedish citizen and aimed at Muslims in the country, read: “Swedish social services do not act without good reason and more often than not it requires some quite extreme behavioral dysfunction before they do …  try to raise your children to respect others, get an education and become a productive member of society who understands and is invested in the social contract.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates are using well-meaning liberals across Europe to cover for and further their own anti-democratic agenda, experts have warned.

At an event attended by Arab News and hosted by UAE think tank Trends Research and Advisory late last year, experts also cautioned that despite its relative decline in the past decade, the Brotherhood is adaptive and must be continually countered.

Dr. Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told participants that the Brotherhood was using “woke” language to “camouflage their true nature” as it takes hold in Europe.

“People experienced the ineffectiveness of the rule of the Brotherhood in 2012 and 2013,” he said. “People have become disenchanted with the Brotherhood.” But in the West, and particularly in Europe, the group’s status was “a more complicated question,” he added.

There, it is a “different Brotherhood, with different goals and priorities compared with Muslim countries."

There was a “coming-of-age of a second generation of activists who are European-born and are extremely well-versed in the European, Western political discourse,” he added.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, they have taken to peddling fake news about children in danger to garner support. On Feb. 20, the Shuoun Islamiya Twitter account posted four photographs, taken on the same day, of what purported to be a group of children in Syria, captioned “Solidarity of Syrian children with children in Sweden, We ask Allah to grant relief to all Muslims around the world.”

In the photographs the children are holding posters, written in Arabic, that read “Social kidnaps the children from their mothers”, “Stop kidnapping our children, whoever has humanity save the Syrian children in Sweden,” and “No happiness for the children except with their mothers.”

In a video posted on Feb. 18, Shuoun Islamiya claimed that the two daughters of Swedish-based Muslim writer Seyed Issa Musavi “were kidnapped in Sweden” and that the judge in the family court hearing the case “ruled that his daughters should not return because of the books he writes about Sweden, and this is another proof of the lie of freedom of expression in Sweden.” One of Musavi’s books is called “Forced conversion of Muslim children in Sweden.”

In one post in his own Twitter account, Musavi alleges that “Sweden Kidnapps Children (girls) move to remote areas, raped by Swedish OFFICIELS. This one, 8-years Child- girl.”

Julia Agha, head of the Arabic-language news outlet Alkompis, based in Stockholm, told AFP that the campaign had its roots in protests by Muslim families whose children had been taken into care by social services.

“What’s happened is that this campaign has ended up in the hands of forces abroad that have put a religious filter over it and are spreading disinformation, which now looks more like a hate campaign against Sweden and Swedish society.”

The disinformation campaign is exploiting the sense of isolation felt among many immigrant Muslims in Sweden, a generous country that has struggled for years to integrate new arrivals.

Sweden, a wealthy country of 10.4 million people, granted asylum and family reunification to more than 400,000 people from 2010 to 2019 — more per capita than any other European country.

“Sweden still has many integration challenges, not least when it comes to segregation,” Agha told AFP.

She said many immigrants struggled to learn Swedish, lived in areas where they interacted only with other immigrants, and didn’t feel a part of Swedish society.


Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill

Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill
Updated 49 sec ago

Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill

Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill
WASHINGTON: Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. on Monday threatened to remove news from its platform if the US Congress passes a proposal aimed at making it easier for news organizations to negotiate collectively with companies like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook.
Sources briefed on the matter said lawmakers are considering adding the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to a must-pass annual defense bill as way to help the struggling local news industry.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in a tweet said the company would be forced to consider removing news if the law was passed “rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”
He added the proposal fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put content on the platform because “it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around.”
The News Media Alliance, a trade group representing newspaper publishers, is urging Congress to add the bill to the defense bill, arguing that “local papers cannot afford to endure several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse, and time to take action is dwindling. If Congress does not act soon, we risk allowing social media to become America’s de facto local newspaper.”
More than two dozen groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge and the Computer & Communications Industry Association on Monday urged Congress not to approve the local news bill saying it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters” and argued the bill does not require “funds gained through negotiation or arbitration will even be paid to journalists.”
A similar Australian law, which took effect in March 2021 after talks with the big tech firms led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country, has largely worked, a government report said.
Since the News Media Bargaining Code took effect, various tech firms including Meta and Alphabet have signed more than 30 deals with media outlets, compensating them for content that generated clicks and advertising dollars, the report added.

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 
Updated 06 December 2022

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

DUBAI: Google Doodle marked on Tuesday the birthday of the late Kuwaiti actor and comedian Abdul Hussein Abdul Reda, which falls on Dec. 6. 

Abdul Reda is one of the most famous and prominent Gulf and Arab artists, and one of the Gulf region’s pioneers of acting, with a career that exceeded 50 years.

He participated in the first theatrical play in classical Arabic under the title “Saqr Quraish” in 1961. 

(Internet)

Abdul Reda presented many prominent works in theater and television, where he became famous on television with series like The Slippery Path and Destinies.  

He was nicknamed by Dubai Ruler and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid as the “Gulf’s laughter and joy” for his famous theatrical roles in well-known Khaleej plays like Bye Bye London and Bani Samet. 

On his passing, Sheikh Mohammed took to Twitter to pay tribute to the late Kuwaiti actor, saying: “We bid farewell to the Gulf's laughter and joy. Every Khaleeji citizen had a beautiful time with you.” 

After suffering several diseases in his lifetime, Abdul Reda passed away in London and was buried in Sulaibikhiyat Al Jaafariah on Aug. 16, 2017.


Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum launches joint broadcasting initiative

A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
Updated 06 December 2022

Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum launches joint broadcasting initiative

A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
  • Majid Al-Qasabi: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum, which is being held today in Riyadh...between the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group”

RIYADH: Ahead of the Chinese President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group announced the launch of a joint partnership initiative to promote relations between Arab countries and China through media in a ceremony in Riyadh on Monday.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum, which is being held today in Riyadh...between the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group,” Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi said.

Al-Qasabi addressed the audience in a speech via video extending his support for the cooperation.

“We look forward to the cooperation today to launch new media initiatives that contribute to deepening the ties between the Arab and Chinese cultures and between their peoples,” he said.

The initiative, he explained, will promote the presence of Chinese media on Arab channels, translating Chinese television shows into Arabic.

Through the initiative, Saudi and Chinese television will also work together to create programs highlighting the stories of individuals from both Saudi Arabia and China who achieved success in each other’s countries.

The initiative will also create opportunities for travel between the two countries, opening a space for greater understanding and strengthening the relationship between China and Saudi Arabia through media and cultural exchange.

In line with the aim of improving communication, the ceremony was held in both Arabic and Chinese in the presence of Ambassador of China to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing, Director-General of the Arab States Broadcasting Union Abdulraheem Sulaiman, and Chinese politician Li Shulei, head of publicity at the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, president of the Arab States Broadcasting Union and CEO of the Saudi Broadcasting Authority, presented the initiative in a speech during the ceremony.

“Saudi-Chinese relations are old and well-established and strong, and they are witnessing prosperity and expansion,” he said, citing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to China, the over 20,000 Arab students studying in China and the several schools in Saudi Arabia that teach the Chinese language and culture.

“We hope that this relationship will witness greater growth with the connection of interests and relations between the two peoples,” he added.

Toward the end of the ceremony, top media representatives from Palestine, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Iraq extended their support for the initiative.

Al-Harthi stressed the importance of media in any country’s diplomatic relations.

“To achieve a solid relationship between the two societies, the media must play this role,” Al-Harthi said.

Through the initiative, translated Chinese works will be broadcast in Palestine, Algeria, Jordan, Sudan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

 


Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future

Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future
Updated 05 December 2022

Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future

Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future
  • John Ryley departing operation after 17 years

LONDON: Sky News chief John Ryley announced on Sunday that he will step down after 17 years in charge as the channel faces the challenges of a post-television future.

Ryley, 60, assumed his role as head of the news outlet in 2006, when Sky News was almost fully dedicated to producing its flagship live television channel. He led the channel’s transformation into a multimedia operation with a large online audience.

Sky News, however, continues to spend a substantial part of its budget on traditional broadcasting.

Sources at the channel told the Guardian that Ryley’s departure will be announced to staff in a call on Dec. 5. Details are yet to be confirmed, but the call is also expected to reveal new hires for Sky News’ data, podcasts and original journalism teams.

The sources added that investment in several new studios would be paused.

Across almost two decades, Ryley won many journalism awards as he faced the challenge of running a news outlet in an era of media decline.

He said in recent years that he believed television news, instead of relying on patrician presenters, should increasingly feature reporters offering expert analysis and context. “The age of the all-powerful anchor is gone — instead they share the stage with journalists in the field, providing the audience with the high-fiber news they demand,” he wrote.

The announcements, according to The Guardian, suggest that Sky News’ leadership is preparing for a future where the channel’s focus shifts away from its live news operation.

While figures show that some 10.2 million people across Britain watched Sky News in November, audience figures for individual shows came in below 100,000 viewers in some cases. The channel is increasingly turning to platforms such as TikTok to reach the younger generations.

Sky News’ financial backing is wrapped up in corporate politics. When founder Rupert Murdoch sold Sky in 2018 to US media giant Comcast, the new owners pledged to maintain Sky News’ funding for a decade.

However, that agreement has yet to be honored, and decisions will be made soon about the outlet’s long-term future and funding model. Comcast is thought to be exploring ways to integrate Sky News into its US-based NBC News operation.

The wider Sky business has faced many challenges in recent years, with revenues slumping as consumers and advertisers cut back on spending in the face of tough economic conditions. The company is already looking beyond its satellite dish model toward a future where its subscription service is delivered over the internet.


New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news

New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news
Updated 05 December 2022

New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news

New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news
  • The new legislation will go to a vote in parliament and is expected to be passed

WELLINGTON: The New Zealand government said it will introduce a law that will require big online digital companies such as Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google and Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) to pay New Zealand media companies for the local news content that appears on their feeds.

Minister of Broadcasting Willie Jackson said in a statement on Sunday that the legislation will be modeled on similar laws in Australia and Canada and he hoped it would act as an incentive for the digital platforms to reach deals with local news outlets.

"New Zealand news media, particularly small regional and community newspapers, are struggling to remain financially viable as more advertising moves online," Jackson said. "It is critical that those benefiting from their news content actually pay for it."

The new legislation will go to a vote in parliament where the governing Labour Party's majority is expected to pass it.

Australia introduced a law in 2021 that gave the government power to make internet companies negotiate content supply deals with media outlets. A review released by the Australian government last week found it largely worked.