Sweden adopted a new anti-terror law on Wednesday, sparking concerns about Turkey’s influence on Sweden’s NATO membership bid and its potential impact on the Kurdish community and civil liberties in the country. The law will come into effect on 1 June.
The law’s broadened scope includes criminalising activities such as handling equipment, organising camps, or providing transport for terrorist organisations, which some argue may also be used to suppress democratic activities.
This new legislation was a key demand from Turkey in order to approve Sweden’s NATO membership bid. While Finland became a member of the military alliance in April, Turkey has blocked Sweden’s application, accusing the country of being a haven for terrorists, especially members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
However, the new law has raised concerns that it could affect the Kurdish community and Swedish-Kurdish associations. A group of 13 individuals, including lawyers, writers, rights advocates and journalists, said that the law would “affect Kurds and Swedish-Kurdish associations that mainly focus on culture and language – civil rights that Turkey has suppressed for almost a hundred years.” They called on legislators not to approve the new anti-terror bill and “to think one more time before pressing the button”. They also highlighted Swedish foreign policy concessions, such as approving the export of military equipment to Turkey, which has repeatedly waged war on its neighbouring countries.
Turkish Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Wednesday that the “more effectively the anti-terrorism law that will come into force in June is implemented, the faster the process for Sweden’s NATO membership will move forward.”