• 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
Sweden loses fastest internet crown
Good luck untangling those. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman /SvD /TT

Worse still, the new European king is Norway.

Where to see the Northern Lights in Sweden tonight
The Northern Lights pictured in Sweden on Wednesday night. Photo: Norrsken Sverige

An unusually high level of solar activity means the spectacle could be visible from rare spots in the country.

The Local List
These are the brands Swedes love the most
What brands do the Swedes love the most? Photo: Per Groth/Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/Pontus Lundahl/TT

Revealed: Swedes' top-20 favourite brands.

Spotify launches new karaoke style streaming in Japan
Can karaoke help Spotify to crack Japan? Photo: DocChewbacca/Flickr creative commons

The Swedish streaming giant has taken inspiration from Japan's love of karaoke with its launch in the country.

US rappers' gig ends in 'bloodbath' in Stockholm
US rapper Ghostface Killah. Photo: Scott Roth/Invision/AP

A man ran onto the stage during a concert by US rappers Ghostface Killah and Killah Priest in Stockholm.

Border checks
Could Sweden's border controls soon be lifted?
The border control at the Swedish side of the Öresund Bridge to Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

The EU-approved six-month extension of controls in the south of the country will soon come to an end.

'Homemade bomb' on bus in Sweden was bike helmet
File photo of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

A bicycle helmet sparked a bomb scare on a bus in Uppsala.

What's on in Sweden
Four don't-miss festivals in Sweden this week
Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival. Photo: Stockholm Öl & Vin AB

Arab cinema, Gay Pride, out-of-the-box art, whisky and craft beer – what more could a person in Sweden possibly need?

Sweden advised to bring conscription back in 2018
Bringing back the draft could help a stretched military, a government inquiry says. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Young men and women could be made to fill in questionnaires for recruitment to the Armed Forces as early as next year, according to a new proposal.

Nationalists suspend aide after Russia propaganda claim
The suspended aide is a political secretary to SD member of parliament Kent Ekeroth. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

His suspension comes only days after another of the party's political secretaries resigned amid controversy over a property deal in Russia.

Sponsored Article
Expat finances in Sweden: the Common Reporting Standard
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
National
Aliens' sex lives? Why Swedes want Nasa to send a condom into space
Analysis & Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape on migration'
Blog updates

27 September

Cutting your nose …. (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Last week, Jeremy Browne, the Special Representative for the City of London, visited Sweden. Jeremy was…" READ »

 

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
2,960
jobs available