Mosques in Sweden were attacked a record 38 times in 2017, marking a tenfold increase from the previous year, a recent report showed.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Mosques in Sweden were attacked a record 38 times in 2017, marking a tenfold increase from the previous year, a recent report showed.
The study, conducted by Uppsala University, indicated a sobering increase in violence against mosques and Muslims in the Nordic country.
Minister for Home Affairs Morgon Johansson described the surge of attacks as "terrible." He said the rise in far-right nationalist parties across Europe has brought about harsh discourse against immigrants, especially Muslims, putting their safety and freedom at risk.
Johansson said the government plans to commission a special police task force to protect against attacks and increase security cameras at mosques and masjids.
Max Stockman of the Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities stressed that the increase in attacks indicates a serious threat to the country's religious freedom.
"Everyone should live safely with their religion," Stockman told state television broadcaster SVT.
"A main task of the government is to combat threats to freedom of religion. We are concerned about the attacks on Islamic and Jewish institutions," he added.
A 2015 investigation by the Islamic Cooperation Council in Sweden revealed that seven out of 10 mosques in the country had been attacked.
Recent opinion polls for Sweden's general elections to be held on Sept. 9 show that the country's far-right and anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party have support over 20 percent, closely behind governing Social Democrats at 24 percent and main opposition Moderates at 22 percent.
The ruling minority coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, backed by the Left Party, altogether polled at 37 percent. The alliance between Moderates, Center and Christian polled at 39 percent.
Out of a population of nearly 10 million, some 1.4 million, or 15 percent of the inhabitants of Sweden are foreign born, with those who were born in non-EU countries making up 65 percent.
Sweden has registered around 400,000 asylum requests since 2012, or one for every 25 inhabitants, a record in Europe.
Hate crimes against mosques and Muslims have been on the rise across Europe in recent years, fueled in part by the success of anti-immigrant, Islamophobic groups in gaining political power.