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Sweden: Mosque destroyed in suspected arson attack

The Eskilstuna Great Mosque was severely damaged by fire after receiving threats, a community member said
Eskilstuna Great Mosque, in southeastern Sweden, was destroyed by a fire on 25 September 2023 (Screengrab/Twitter)

A mosque in southeastern Sweden has been destroyed by a fire in what community members suspect was an arson attack. 

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

He said that police records showed the mosque had faced threats for over a year and had previously been subjected to attacks.

Deneche 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," he said.

Police said on Tuesday that it had no suspects, but were investigating the incident as suspected aggravated arson.

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"Yet again terror strikes against a mosque in Sweden," wrote Mikail Yuksel, a Swedish parliamentarian, on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

"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. 

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Monday's incident comes months after a man burned pages of the Quran in the Swedish capital, sparking criticism around the world. 

Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi man living in Sweden, tore up several pages of the holy book, stomping on it and setting pages alight outside the largest mosque in the Swedish capital.

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Egypt were among several Muslim-majority countries to condemn the act.

In Iraq, the country's Swedish embassy was stormed by supporters of Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr following the incident, while thousands took to the streets of Baghdad to rally against the Quran-burning. 

It wasn't the first Quran-burning incident in Sweden: riots broke out in August 2020 in the city of Malmo hours after right-wing anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Quran. 

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