Second mosque set ablaze in arson attack

A similar incident occurred on Christmas day in Eskilstuna, near Stockholm, in which five people were injured when a fire broke out during prayers

Special security forces in Sweden are currently searching suspected arsonists after fires at two mosques.

The blazes follow a period of increased tension in the country, as politicians struggle to stem the rise of the anti-immigrant far right.

The security forces were called after a fire started at a mosque in the southern town of Eslöv in the early hours of Monday morning. A similar incident occurred on Christmas day in Eskilstuna, near Stockholm, in which five people were injured when a fire broke out during prayers.

“It’s probably Islamophobia,” an Eslöv imam, Samir Muric, told Swedish media. “I live close and do not feel safe anymore.”

Elvir Gigovic, chair of the Muslim Council of Sweden, said there had been a spate of “systematic” attacks on Muslims this year, many of which were marked by their violence and severity.

The justice minister, Morgan Johansson, described the Eskilstuna fire as a “heinous atrocity” and said it was difficult to believe the incident was anything other than violence directed against Muslims.

Heightened concern about attacks on Muslims comes after Saturday’s decision by Sweden’s leftwing coalition government to call off elections due in March after a last-minute compromise with centre-right parties.

The deal enables both blocs to avoid potential humiliation at the polls by the far-right Sweden Democrats, which forced the crisis after blocking the government’s budget in parliament, where it holds the balance of power.

Sweden Democrats leaders have likened Islamism to Nazism, and the party wants to cut the number of asylum seekers by 90%.

This month, the leader of Sweden’s Jewish community condemned as “good old rightwing antisemitism” remarks by the party’s secretary that Jews could not be Swedes unless they abandoned their religious identity.

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