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Situation of Islamophobia in Sweden and "Caliphate"

With the lockdowns and social distancing practices increasing across the world due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, everybody has more time for watching films or TV series. And the most popular digital platform for this activity is the Netflix with 167 million subscribers. And one of the TV series is the Swedish made ‘Caliphate’, featuring on Netflix.

The series is telling the story of women who were manipulated to join DAESH, lived in Raqqa during the DAESH rule and the Swedish intelligence agency’s “heroic” battle to stop a DAESH terror attack on Swedish soil.

Yet, the series shows everything related to Islam as an indication of becoming a terrorist at the end from the first episode. The prayers, mosques, niqab and other practices and rituals of Islam are all presented as a dangerous path or even an evidence to be a DAESH militant. The “good” Muslims in the series are the ones who do not practice the religion, and to practice Islam is presented as 'something to be afraid of'. “Islam is nearly equalized to terrorism” in Sweden’s ‘Caliphate’, states Salih Tuna in his column on Turkey’s Sabah newspaper.

Prior to be featured on Netflix, the Caliphate first appeared on Sweden’s national TV channel STV. To understand how such TV series started to be aired on the state TV channel, one should look at the current political climate of Sweden. According to many polling companies, The SD, Swedish Democrats Party (Sverigedemokraterna), has now the largest voter support in Sweden with 24% of the voters being expected to vote for them in the general elections.

The party has been characterized as ‘right-wing populist’, ‘national-conservative’, ‘anti-immigration’, or ‘far-right’. The party members frequently make negative comments against Muslims and migrants. Just last month, the party’s chairman and the member of the parliament Jimmie Åkesson travelled to Greece-Turkey border and distributed leaflets stating not to come to Sweden for refugees. “Sweden is full,” was the title of the leaflets.

Therefore, it is not a surprise how a TV series equating observant Muslims to terrorists could become one of the biggest TV productions in Sweden, airing on the state channel under the current situation in Sweden.