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Malmö Mosque blaze was arson

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16:38 CEST+02:00
A blaze which broke out at a mosque in Malmö on Saturday night is being treated as arson, with intention to murder. Police in Malmö say they are taking the attack very seriously.

"We're talking about a very sensitive target here," says inspector Marie Keismar.

Police say there is no doubt that the fire was started deliberately. A window in the mosque had been broken using a bottle filled with flammable liquid.

"There's no record of threats against the mosque, as far as we are aware, so we can only speculate about the background to this attack," says Keismar.

Bejzat Becirov, chairman of the Islamic centre that runs the mosque along with two schools, does not agree.

He tells TT that they are frequently threatened in letters, phone calls, various forms of sabotage. People even stop him in the street to make threats, he says.

"They want me to stop activities in the mosque. People won't leave us in peace - the threats never stop coming," he claims.

Becirov did not want to say whether the Islamic centre reports all the threats to the police.

The mosque and minarets sustained smoke damage in a previous attack in April 2003, after a firebomb attack destroyed some wooden buildings neighbouring the Islamic centre's schools and offices.

Police finished their forensic investigation of the site on Sunday. They are now awaiting results of the analysis of the liquid in the bottle.

"We are also continuing to try and find witnesses and other evidence," says Keismar.

Malmö police were alerted to the fire at just after midnight. The fire brigade managed to extinguish the fire within a few minutes.

But according to Becirov smoke damage was so severe that thorough cleaning will be needed.

"We really ought to close the mosque for a month, but we can't do that - we need to use it," he says.

The mosque was empty at the time of the attack, and there are no reports of injuries.

TT/The Local

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