Protests across Sweden in solidarity with Muslims
Demonstrations took place in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö on Friday to protest against the recent string of fires and acts of vandalism at mosques in Sweden, including in Uppsala on New Year's Day.
Under the slogan "Rör Inte Min Moské", or "Don't Touch My Mosque", people in Sweden's three biggest cities took to the streets to show solidarity with Swedish Muslims and to protest what they say are Islamophobic acts.
Speaking at the Stockholm event outside the Swedish Parliament, Culture and Democracy Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke says the government is planning steps to create a national strategy to fight Islamophobia by giving people more information about Islam to stop the prejudice. Money is not always the answer, she says.
"The big problem is that some people have these sets of values which make them prepared to carry out these horrendous deeds. We won't change that with more window bars, cameras or guards", she told news agency TT.
Andreas Hasslert of the Ibn Rushd Educational Association is one of the organisers of the protest in Malmö. He told Radio Sweden that many Muslims are afraid. “You just fled from bombings. You think you've come to safety and your neighbours start burning your mosque down," Hasslert said.
There was also a "love bombing" action in Uppsala on Friday, with members of the public attaching paper hearts and messages of support to the mosque there.
"Each time there has been an attack, the same mosque has then received a kind of 'love bomb' where people have shown their support and sympathy. A large part of the population is strongly against this type of attack and tomorrow we will gather these good forces," Omar Mustafa, chairman of the Islamic Association in Sweden, told the news agency TT.
He said there is "notable concern" among Sweden's muslims over the recent attacks in Uppsala, Eslöv and Eskilstuna.
"It feels like these are planned hate crimes, with the purpose to scare a part of the population. It is an attack on the freedom of religion, an attack against the whole society and I cannot call it anything else than an act of terror," Omar Mustafa told TT.