Swedish Public Television Blocks Documentary Linking Jihad to Antisemitism for Fear of Offending Muslims
Swedish state television blocked the airing of a documentary linking jihad to antisemitism, out of fear it would offend the country’s growing Muslim population, the Danish language news outlet Berlingske reported.
According to the report, Sveriges Television (SVT) is coming under fire for refusing to broadcast “Watching the Moon at Night,” due to “political correctness.”
SVT was a major funder of the documentary, which takes an in-depth look at the link between jihad and Jew-hatred, demonstrating the extent to which Jews have been affected by terrorism. Mahrianne Ahrne — a former film consultant at the Swedish Film Institute who initially approved public funding for the documentary — told Berlingske that once the money was approved, SVT kept thwarting the film’s production with “one formal obstacle after another.”
Bo Persson, the film’s director, revealed that SVT project manager Lars Säfström demanded the movie be more anti-Israel and anti-American. “He tried to influence the film’s content…For us it was totally unacceptable that he should interfere with the content,” Persson said.
The Swedish broadcaster has denied accusations that it is refusing to show the film for political reasons. SVT’s head of documentaries, Axel Arnö, said the documentary did not fit in with the channel’s journalistic standards, as it attempts to prove a single point, rather than chronicle reality.
An online petition, supported in part by the film’s director, is already making the rounds. “In these fraught and dangerous times, terrorism and antisemitism threaten the institutions of democracy everywhere. Attempting to hide this reality and distorting the public debate is the worst way to confront these threats when we should instead stand up for human rights and European values,” the petition states.
This is not the first time SVT has been accused of journalistic censorship. In 2015, Swedish magazine Fria Tider exposed a manual developed by SVT listing acceptable language to use while reporting on controversial issues.
For example, the term “immigrant population” was to be replaced with “socially/economic deprived area,” and “refugees” to “people on the run.” Concerning matters of race, the manual warns its journalists to “be aware that concepts of black and dark skin can arouse criticism.”
Over the last year, Sweden has seemingly buckled under pressure from the thousands of Muslim refugees who have entered the country. According to a Pew Research Center survey published this week, 57 percent of Swedes fear that Muslim refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country.
“Watching the Moon at Night” has premiered in six countries and featured in numerous film festivals.