Last week, Swedish authorities ordered the closure of the Córdoba International School in Stockholm, a recognized Islamic center. Security forces raised the alarm about links to jihadist groups and warned of the risk of radicalization faced by the more than 500 students who would have to be relocated to other centers.
Inspectors found the management “unable to manage school activities” and revoked the center’s license due to its links to Islamist organizations uncovered by the intelligence services. At least one board member of ALM Education, the company that manages the center, had previously worked for a jihadist group abroad, according to local press.
The spokesman for the main national security agency, Fredrik Hultgren-Fribergstated that the school’s “representatives” had ties to “Islamists who advocated violence.”
Two other daycare centers in the capital, which also belong to ALM Education, are being investigated for the same reasons, although the company’s managing director, Ulla Parkkinenassured that there was “no risk of radicalization of children”.
The incident has heightened concerns in Sweden about the nearly 4,000 people friscolor spread throughout the country. They are charter schools funded by the state but operated by for-profit companies. A UK-inspired model introduced three decades ago to expand student choice. Every fifth child aged 6 to 15 and every third child aged 16 to 19 learns in these centers.
The Minister of Education, Lotta Edholmhas met with industry experts to find new ways to limit religious instruction, restrict foreign ownership or prevent schools from paying dividends.
Radical Islam has returned to the top of Sweden’s security agenda in recent months following a series of Koran burnings and the emergence of conspiracy theories accusing social services of systematically removing children from Swedish Muslim families.
Last week, public television Sweden published an investigation that found that several people who lived under the Islamic State and returned to Sweden were able to find work in social welfare. One of them had also started a business to help children with their homework.
The report tracked 83 of the 150 Daesh returnees and found that at least 30 had now been charged with crimes including murder, assault and fraud.