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Suspected arson attack severely damages mosque in southeastern Sweden

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This screen grab taken from Twitter shows Eskilstuna Great Mosque, in southeastern Sweden, which was destroyed by a fire on September 25, 2023.

A mosque has been destroyed in a suspected arson attack in southeastern Sweden amid the rise of extremists and anti-Muslim sentiment in the Scandinavian country.

Anas Deneche, the communications director of the Great Mosque in the city of Eskilstuna, told public broadcaster Sveriges Radio on Tuesday that he believed Monday's blaze was deliberately caused.

He further said his mother heard a loud noise before the fire broke out. "She heard an explosion and all of a sudden things start to burn."

Police records show the mosque has faced threats and was subjected to physical attacks, Deneche said, adding that they are sure that this was an arson attack.

Police have said an investigation of the incident was under way and they were investigating the incident as suspected aggravated arson.

Rescuers said that the mosque was now unusable due to the damage.

“The main building of the mosque was not salvageable. The building burned from the roof,” rescue officer Anders Sisler said.

Mikail Yuksel, a Swedish parliamentarian, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter condemned this attack in the strongest terms.

"Yet again terror strikes against a mosque in Sweden," Yuksel wrote. "This is another brutal attack on human rights, and to democracy and freedom in the country formally known as a humanitarian super power."

In recent years, there have been several arson attacks on Swedish mosques. A spate of such attacks in 2014 targeted several cities, including Eskilstuna.

In Sweden, where more than 600,000 Muslims live, incidents of desecrating the Holy Qur'an in front of mosques and Islamic countries’ embassies have been taking place recently, sparking widespread anger in the Islamic world and prompting some capitals to summon Swedish diplomats to register an official objection.

Besides Sweden, acts of sacrilege against the Holy Qur'an have also taken place in Denmark. The two Nordic countries have said they are exploring ways to legally limit such actions to deescalate growing tensions with Muslim countries.

The two countries have deplored the desecration of the Qur’an but claimed that they cannot prevent it under constitutional laws protecting freedom of speech.

On July 25, the UN adopted a resolution, drafted by Morocco, condemning all acts of violence targeting holy books as a violation of international law.

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