• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Mosque attacks
Sweden rallies after trio of mosque fire attacks
"Don't touch my mosque" reads this banner in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Sweden rallies after trio of mosque fire attacks

The Local/ms · 2 Jan 2015, 16:55

Published: 02 Jan 2015 16:55 GMT+01:00

KEY POINTS

  • Rallies took place across Sweden after three mosques were attacked between Christmas Day and New Year's Day
  • Some anti-racism campaigners claim of rise of nationalist Sweden Democrat party is to blame for increasing Islamphobia
  • Sweden's Culture and Democracy Minister insists country is still a "paradise" for immigrants

The crowds in Stockholm waved placards and listened to speeches from leading figures within the city's Muslim community as they gathered on the cobbled streets outside the Royal Palace in the Swedish capital's Old Town, known as Gamla Stan.

The largest banner at the demonstation read: "Don't touch my mosque".

Anti-racism campaigner Yasin Ahmed, 43, told The Local he was "surprised and thrilled" that so many people had turned out for the event on a cold January 2nd.

"I came here because I am against the mosque attacks. They are not only attacks on mosques but also against Swedish democracy. I am a Swedish citizen first and I am also a Swedish muslim seeking to protect my rights and to show solidarity with others to deal with this Islamophobia".

 "We want to send the message that these attacks on mosques... are a problem for all of society and not just Muslims," Mohammed Kharraki a spokesman for Sweden's Islamic Association told news the AFP news agency.

After Culture and Democracy Minister Alice Bah Kuhne took to the stand, she spoke to The Local and said that Sweden should still be seen as "a paradise" for immigrants from different nations despite the current tensions.

"The most important thing that we can do now, as a government, a people, and a country, is to really put the effort into making an action plan to change this," she said.

Will mosque fires end Sweden's 'paradise' reputation?

Other rallies took place in Malmö and Gothenburg.

Swedish police are still searching for suspects linked to the third arson attack against a mosque in a week, which took place in Uppsala on Thursday amid growing tensions over the rise of a far right anti-immigration movement.

The mosque has since been covered in paper hearts from people pledging their support to muslims.

"People saw a man throwing something burning at the building," police in Uppsala said in a statement, adding that the mosque in eastern Sweden did not catch fire and that the suspect had left behind "a text on the door expressing contempt for religion."

A police spokesman told Swedish news agency TT that the burning object was a Molotov cocktail and that no one was in the building at the time.

Sweden's Islamic Association posted a photograph online of the main door of the mosque, which was emblazoned with the slogan "Go home Muslim shit”.

The police were alerted by passers-by, who reportedly witnessed the attack at around 5.30am.

"The crime has been classed as attempted arson, vandalism and incitement to hatred," police said, appealing for witnesses to come forward.


Uppsala mosque on Friday. Photo: TT

Thursday's attack in Sweden's fourth-largest city came just three days after a late-night blaze at a mosque in Eslöv in the south, which police suspect was also arson.

On Christmas Day, five people were injured when a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of a mosque in Eskilstuna, west of the capital Stockholm.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven led condemnation of the latest attack.

"The most important thing now is that everyone distances themselves from this," he told the TT news agency.

"In Sweden no one should have to be afraid when they practice their religion," he added, saying the government would increase funding for securing places of worship.

According to the anti-racism magazine Expo, there have been at least a dozen confirmed attacks on mosques in Sweden in the last year and a far larger number are believed to have gone unreported.

"People are afraid, they fear for their safety," Mohammad Kharraki a spokesman for Sweden's Islamic Association told the AFP news agency.

Story continues below…

"We've seen through history that people use violence as a way of polarising society against minorities.”

The attacks come as debate intensifies in Sweden over immigration and the integration of asylum seekers in the traditionally tolerant Nordic country, which is expected to receive more than 100,000 asylum applications this year, breaking all previous records.

Last month the far right Sweden Democrats - which doubled its support to 13 percent in September elections - came close to bringing down the Social Democrat-Green government in protest over the coalition’s liberal refugee policies. The party's support in opinion polls has risen to around 16 percent.

However in a last minute agreement on December 27th, the government and centre right opposition parties cut a deal effectively denying the Sweden Democrats influence over major policy - including over immigration.

Kharraki said the arson attacks could be carried out by "Sweden Democrats people who are angry because they've been pushed aside."

"They think Muslims are the problem," he said, while "mainstream political parties have taken a stand against racism and Islamophobia."

However, a spokesman for the Sweden Democrats said there was no reason to consider the attacks to be politically motivated.

"This is not political, it's criminal. It's criminals doing this and it's a police matter, not a political question," said Henrik Vinge.

"This type of violence is something we take very seriously.... It’s unacceptable of course."

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/ms (news.sweden@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Joe Biden to arrive in Sweden for refugee talks
Stefan Löfven meets Joe Biden during a visit to Washington in March 2015. Photo: Monica Enqvist/Government Offices of Sweden

US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Stockholm on Wednesday evening ahead of talks with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven that are expected to focus on migration and refugees.

Boy who attacked goalkeeper 'bet thousands' on game
Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

A 17-year-old boy who stormed the pitch and attacked a goalkeeper in Sweden’s top division earlier this month has claimed he had placed a large bet on the result.

Furious fireman lashes out at Malmö car arsonists
Firefighters battle a blaze in Malmö earlier this month. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A fireman in Malmö has won praise across Sweden for calling out arsonists on the “bullshit” reasons behind a spate of car fires in the southern city.

See Stockholm spectacularly change through the seasons
A bright autumn day in Stockholm. Photo: Delphine Fortin

In order to help her long-distance relationship, one Stockholm-based blogger produced a fascinating visual illustration of the Swedish capital throughout the seasons.

Groped woman had 'gigantic breasts' - player cleared
File image (2010) of Björklöven players in a huddle. Photo: public domain

A former prosector said the reasoning was "absurd" and "illegitimate".

Sweden’s high-speed trains the least punctual in Europe
One of Sweden's high-speed trains during a delay in Stockholm. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

It seems the Swedes are not quite so efficient after all.

Refugee crisis
Asylum seekers leaving Sweden in record numbers
The Swedish Migration Agency offices in Solna. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

The large number of asylum seekers leaving Sweden in 2016 coincides with a dramatic fall in the number seeking asylum in the country compared to last year.

Long-term damage seen from brain injuries: Swedish study
A model of the human brain. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

A study carried out in Sweden suggests that youths who suffer traumatic brain injuries are more likely to experience long-term psychological and social problems.

The Local List
30 Swedish movies you must see before you die
Thomas Hedegran and Rolf Lassgård in thriller The Hunters. Photo: Photo: Per Pettersson/TT

Film buff Christian Ekvall picks out 30 definitive Swedish movies you must see to understand the soul of the country's cinema.

Malmö police catch car arson suspect in the act
Another car blaze earlier this month. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Malmö police have arrested a man after they caught him setting a vehicle alight in the Rosengård district as the city's spate of summer car fires continued.

Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
The Local Voices
Syrian presenter: Swedish media should make more shows in Arabic
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
Watch the meteor shower in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
How to survive a crayfish party
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
IN PICS: Your Sweden summer snaps
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
National
Why are fewer foreign graduates staying in Sweden to work?
Culture
This Swedish street artist's incredible murals will make your jaw drop
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,354
jobs available