Kashif Virk, Missionary, Sweden
From 28 September to 1 October 2023, the National Book Fair of Sweden was held in Gothenburg. On this occasion, publishers, NGOs, government authorities and media outlets among others partake and arrange exhibitions. The event is visited by around 100,000 people annually.
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Sweden regularly takes part in the event. This year, the focus was to highlight the teachings of the Holy Quran (#KoranenLär) and invite visitors to #AskAMuslim (#FrågaEnMuslim). These efforts to create dialogue are gaining wider recognition in Swedish society day by day.
Around 40 copies of the Holy Quran were distributed. Several copies of World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace, Life of Muhammad, as well as other books, were provided to the visitors. Hundreds of people had long conversations with us and asked a wide range of questions. Many stopped by just to express their appreciation for our initiative. We had interesting one-to-one discussions and several of them went on for more than half an hour. Around 1,500 people engaged with us over the course of four days.
At the stall, several talks were held with invited panellists on different topics related to the ongoing topic of burning holy scriptures. The topics included themes such as sacred scriptures, hate speech and Swedish law. Several hundred visitors watched these talks at our exhibition. Among the invited panellists were notables such as the Archbishop of Sweden Martin Modéus, famous writer Christer Sturmark, police inspector Ulf Bostrom, former minister of justice Thomas Bodström, columnist Henrik Jalalian, professor of political science Bo Rothstein and national secretary for the Humanist society in Sweden Ulf Gustafsson.
Before each panel, a Khadim recited the Holy Quran. This attracted a lot of people.
Among other visitors at our stall were Anders Arborelius, Cardinal of the Catholic Church, Louise Thunström, member of parliament, as well as several bishops, priests and professors.
An inspiring incident that happened at the stall was when an atheist approached us and asked us what the stall was about. When we informed him that the aim was to convey the teachings of the Holy Quran, he said that it was of no benefit to him since he was not a believer. After a brief discussion, he left. Later, he came by the stall and said that he wished to buy a copy of the Holy Quran.
MTA Sweden provided coverage of the event and recorded the talks held at the stall.