• 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
Brexit vote
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Anna Kinberg Batra, of the largest opposition party, the Moderates. Photo: TT

"This is a sad day for the British and for Europe."

Brexit vote
Swedish PM swats aside calls for EU renegotiation
"Sweden will now lose an important partner in the EU," Löfven said. Photo: TT

Left Party calls "totally irresponsible."

Brexit vote
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote

Expat Brits in Sweden have reacted with shock, despair and uncertainty to the result of the EU referendum in the UK which was won 52-48 by the Leave campaign.

Brexit vote
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
Photo: TT

The former Swedish EU minister, Birgitta Ohlsson declared that it was 'a morning of sorrow', after British voters opted to leave the European Union on Thursday.

The Local Recipes
How to make Karin's delicious Midsummer cake
Karin's cake. Photo: swedishfood.com

"We are very tolerant of other cultures except when it comes to strawberries."

Sweden named the world's 'most reputable' country
The flag of the world's most reputable country – at least according to one report. Photo: Fredrik Sanberg/TT

Sweden has been ranked as the most reputable country in the world by a new report. Find out why.

Why most students don't finish Swedish for Immigrants
More students are taking Swedish for Immigrants classes, but completion rates are low. Photo: Pontus Lundahl

Only four in ten students finished their courses at Sweden's state-funded Swedish for Immigrants classes in 2015, according to new statistics from a national agency.

Swedish police nab drunk-driving lawnmower man
Lawnmowers: dangerous, in the wrong hands. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

A man in southern Sweden is at risk of having his licence revoked after drunkenly driving a motorized lawnmower.

Sweden has EU's second highest food prices
A shopper prepares for the inevitable fleecing. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

If your loaf of bread seems ridiculously expensive that’s because it is.

Here's how much alcohol Swedes drink on Midsummer
Systembolaget is a busy place around Midsummer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedes are known for letting loose on Midsummer, but the most recent figures from the country's state-run alcohol monopoly may surprise you.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Blog updates

17 June

Queen’s Birthday Stockholm 2016: 9th June. 90th Birthday. 900 Guests! (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"What do you do when you read that the Queen’s 90th Birthday in London will be…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
The Local Voices
Orlando reflections: Is it possible to be gay and Muslim?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Sweden to go ahead with migrant age tests
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th-19th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm school celebrates Nepal Project success
National
Will you be hit by changes to Sweden's residency laws?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
The Local Voices
Why an Iraqi who won Swedish lottery won't quit his restaurant job
Gallery
People-watching: Midweek revellers
National
Why this pizzeria is giving elderly Swedes free meatballs
3,355
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se