Extremists are against human rights and democracy in whatever name they kill people: Former MP Carina Hägg
The Oslo Times International News Network’s Editor in Chief,Hatef Mokhtar at the World Forum on Human Rights in Morocco, met with former member of the Swedish Parliment Carina Hägg and Annika Borg, Doctor in Theology and Gender Rights Activist for a brief interview on the Human Rights situation around the world, extremism, and gender equality .
The Excerpts below give us an insight into their views on the issues mentioned above, we begin with an interview with former MP Hagg followed by a brief interview with Ms.Borg:
Carina Hägg is a Swedish social democratic politician and former member of Parliment. She has been a member of the Riksdag since 1995. She is also a member of the AWEPA Governing Council.During her time as an MP, she defended abortions of women who were not covered by the Swedish legislation and implemented it through a health care unit in Jönköping County Council and urged that the law be changed so that these abortions would be legal.
What is the purpose behind your participation in this conference in Morocco?
For me it is very important that I come here and show our interest in the developments happening in Morocco. It is an international conference where we can meet people and human rights activists from different parts of the world, see how people network. There is a lot of good talks happening not just inside the conferences but also outside on the corridor and it’s a good platform to interact with people.
So does this mean that this conference is very useful for human rights defenders?
Yes, that is why I have come. I have seen it by myself and I think that it has become more useful because the conference gives people from all walks of the human rights sector an opportunity to meet each other. And, now as the authorities here have brought this issue up as a law, we can hold these issues we can talk about them. People who live abroad are back and are here to talk about human rights. That’s a very good step.
Many people have been criticizing the rise of the Swedish Democrats and its extreme views. What is your opinion on this?
This is a very important issue we have to deal with in Sweden and we have tried our best to neutralize their views but they have increased over the years and I am very scared for the future because we can’t see a decrease in their popularity. Instead we can see them growing in number. We have to try and learn from examples of other countries like Norway, Finland and Denmark and other parties in Europe, and we also have to learn from here.
Islamic extremism is currently on the rise even in Europe, as many people from Sweden, Finland, Norway and other parts of the continent and the world join jihadist groups like the IS. How will this affect the Swedish society as a whole?
For me as a Human Right activist, and as a person who has worked in a democratic system all her life, I will say no to all forms of extremism. Extremists are against human rights and democracy in whatever name they kill people. It is something we have to deal with and we are very clear about this. Whether it is right wing extremism or left wing extremism or Islamic extremism, we have to be very careful. We cannot accept them. We are, maybe in the beginning and we have more to do to support parents in helping stop their children from travelling to become jihadist and also to prevent far-right extremism.
Do you have a message for our global readership?
My message to them would be that they can do a lot, they can’t say I cant play any role, I am lonely, I cant do anything alone, I can see and react but I cant take steps to change my society. We can all do a lot and if we cooperate together than we can change the world.
Annika Borg is a Doctor in Theology, who completed her doctoral dissertation in 2004 on Gender and biblical interpretation. She is active as a Gender Rights Activist, writer, lecturer, author, radio host and an educator.Borg has featured frequently in debates about the church, society, religion and life issues in newspapers, radio, and television. She is a member of the General Synod. A gender rights activist and a priest she has represented the Swedish Church.
Can you tell us about gender equality in Sweden?
Gender equality in Sweden is a big issue, they say we have the highest degree of equality in the world and I should think that perhaps it’s correct even though cant just say that we have gender equality and its also an issue that is constantly discussed in the Swedish debate. It’s a country with great gender equality.
What do you mean by equal?
As lot of times gender equality only exists in paper while some forms of discrimination do occur in the actual society, like in terms of women employment.
Yes of course that is true in some cases, but in Sweden women have comparatively more freedom than women in other parts of the world. I can choose my life, I can choose how many children I want to bear I can choose to be educated, I can choose a completely free life, but of course we do have discrimination and violence against women. However I am completely aware that I live in a country and in a situation in history where it has only been a few decades that women have enjoyed such freedom in other countries. We have discrimination when it comes to work and position, in work or decision making at universities. We still have a lot of issues to deal with you can never be satisfied absolutely.
What do you have to say about the rights of LGBTI people in Sweden?
It is a very important issue and in Sweden you have legislation, you have the same rights to marriage, to partnership. You can even have a wedding at LutheranChurch, which was previously a state church and it has over 6.5 million members. It is a big issue in Sweden but we have come quite far.
Though you are a priest for the Lutheran Church, I am going to relate my question to the Catholic Church which is far more rigid in its stance. The Vatican’s refusal in October to shift its view on same-sex marriages, after the Synod held that month, disappointed many people, how do you think this kind of rigid and extreme beliefs of a religious institution affects its followers?
For me as a priest (ordained minister in The Church of Sweden) it is important to support every couple (same sex or not) who wish to love each other and stay true to each other for better and for worse, as it is stated in the marriage vows. I want to encourage that and I – and my church – do not differ between the sincere love between a man and a woman and the sincere love between a couple of the same sex. I think that the Vatican will have to catch up with reality on this matter, and I can see that the new pope Francis as a pope who has initiated dialogue on the subject. But the issue is also complicated for many believers, so dialogue is the method and the instrument.
What is your opinion on this?
Well it has been a very important issue for me. Last summer I had a wedding where I wed two men together in a Christian ceremony. I am focused on gender issues and this is just another part of that. I think the Gay and Lesbian rights are very important.
As a scholar, as a woman and as an academician, what message do you have for human right activists, who are working against dictatorial regimes, disappearances?
I see this conference as a light actually. It is very important to see that you can actually make a difference. There are six thousand delegates from all across the world and gender issues are on the agenda. People are meeting and coming together. There is a bright side to human rights and democracy in the world today and though the dark side is very obvious, its very important to keep your focus on the things that you can actually do. People are making efforts all over the world towards preserving and promoting democracy and human rights, so you don’t despair. This conference is both concrete as well as symbolic to reflect that there are many struggling for the same cause.
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