Even as the world is still reeling after last Friday’s attacks in Norway by a 32-year-old gunman who said he wanted to “save Europe from Muslim takeover,” a house of worship for Lutheran, Muslims and Roman Catholics is being built in Nacka in the parish of Fisksätra south of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. “God’s House” is the name of an endeavor that is attempting to “tackle sectarianism,” says Swedish-English newspaper The Local.
Henrik Larsson, a pastor with the Church of Sweden in Nacka and project manager for the initiative, says that God’s House will be the first building to house a church and a mosque since the Umayyad Mosque was built in Damascus in the 600s. The idea for the project arose a few years ago as a “natural extension of the growing cooperation” among the Church of Sweden, St. Konrad’s Catholic Church in Nacka, and the Muslim Association in Nacka (Muslimska föreningen i Nacka). According to Larsson:
In 2004, the local schools came to us and asked us for help and advice in how to teach children about religious tolerance and address any problems, and the idea to do something together started to take form as we thought, “Could we do something?”
After members of the far-right Social Democrat party who campaigned on an openly anti-immigration and anti-Muslim platform won seats in Sweden’s Parliament for the first time in 2010, Church of Sweden Bishop Bengt Wadensjö wrote in a letter to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet:
In Nacka we do not think that Muslims or immigrants should be seen as a threat, as suggested by Jimmie Åkesson [leader of the Social Democrats’. The idea is to demonstrate how people can get along together regardless of culture, language or faith.
While Swedish Democrat Erik Hellsborn wrote on his blog that the attacks in Oslo and Utøya are the result of “mass immigration” and “Islamization,” Åkesson and other right-wing groups in Europe have condemned the attacks.
Photo by Zé.Valdi
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