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Swedish mosques repeatedly attacked

29th Jun 2018
Swedish mosques repeatedly attacked

Sweden Sodermalm mosque vandalised nazi graffiti and racist words January 22, (Photo: Anadolu Agency)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Almost 40 mosques and Islamic centres were attacked in Sweden last year, with some being targeted as many as 10 times, according to a new report by a Swedish researcher.

Well over half (59 per cent) of the 106 mosques and Islamic centres which took part in the survey by Uppsala University’s Mattias Gardell said they had been subjected to some kind of physical attack.

38 of the premises said they suffered physical attacks during 2017, with some being subjected to them on several occasions. Types of attack included fires or attempts to start fires, stone throwing, property damage and graffiti.

Max Stockman from the Swedish Agency for Support to Faith Communities, who financed the report, told The Muslim News, they were “not surprised by the findings of the report as we have closely monitored this issue for quite a few years now.”

“Not only via media coverage and police reports but also through ongoing and close contact with the Muslim faith communities and especially the Islamic Cooperation Council in Sweden.

“Still it is important to state that the fact that so many mosques have been attacked and threatened is by no means acceptable. It is a great threat to the freedom of religion which is granted in the Swedish basic law and a task for us in the public sector is to protect and defend. Everyone, regardless of religious background, should be able to practice their faith safely and without fear for their own safety.”

“We have a problem with a negative public opinion regarding the religion of immigrants and specifically towards Islam. We also see that tensions and conflicts in other parts of the world have effects here in Sweden. It is also important to mention that some attacks are done by extremist groups, mostly from the far right, which is motivated by Islamophobic and racist ideas.”

“The awareness regarding these issues are growing here in Sweden, both within the Police and in Government in general. As an example, there are nowadays specifically assigned hate crime groups within many of the police districts. The Government have also taken other measures such as making it possible for faith communities to apply for special grants regarding safety.”

Kungalv Islamic Cultural Centre in Gothenburg, western Sweden, came under arson attack early on February 21, 2017.

Earlier this year the imam at Stockholm’s Central Mosque explained that the building was targeted 22 times by vandals in 2017, while swastikas were spray-painted on the facade last January.

On September 26, 2017, a mosque in the Vivalla area of Örebro in Central Sweden was burned to the ground. Threats were made against Örebro Mosque which caters for 5,000 worshippers, the attacked once before in 2014 when someone threw a bottle with flammable contents through a window.

Two months later on November 11, 2017, Flen Mosque in the Sodermanland district, came under attack when vandals painted a swastika on one of its doors. The mosque had been attacked four times between 2012 and 2014.

Imam Ali Islamic Centre, the country’s largest Shia Muslim mosque, was partially destroyed by fire in an arson attack on April 30, 2017. Police confirmed the fire, in the Stockholm suburb of Jakobsberg, appeared to have been “lit from the outside”.

A 2017 Pew Research report documents Muslim population at approximately 810,000 (8.1 per cent) of the total population of Sweden of 10 million.

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