Sweden’s government is planning to develop a new national strategy to counter the growing prejudice against Islam in the country, according to Alice Bah Kuhnke, Swedish minister of culture and democracy.
Kuhnke said at a Stockholm protest rally against the spate of attacks on mosques that the government will coordinate with local Muslim communities to find ways to fight Islamophobia by spreading awareness about Islam among people, BBC News reported. The term “Islamophobia” is used to refer to the hatred toward, and fear of, the religion of Islam.
“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,” Ria Novosti quoted Kuhnke as saying, adding that the minister would start consultations with local Muslim organizations in February.
On Friday, thousands of people took to the streets in three of Sweden’s largest cities, including Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, to demand an end to the attacks on mosques. At a protest rally, outside the parliament in Stockholm, demonstrators held leaflets saying, “Don’t touch my mosque,” to show their solidarity with the Muslim community in the country.
“I came here because I am against the mosque attacks. They are not only attacks on mosques but also against Swedish democracy,” one of the protesters told The Local, a Swedish media outlet. “I am a Swedish citizen first and I am also a Swedish Muslim seeking to protect my rights and to show solidarity with others to deal with this Islamophobia.”
A mosque in Sweden’s fourth largest city, Uppsala, was attacked on Thursday in what was reportedly the third arson attack on a Muslim center in the country within a week. The attack followed another incident on Monday, when a fire broke out at a mosque in the southern town of Eslov. An earlier Christmas Day attack on another mosque in Eskilstuna city, 86 miles west of the Swedish capital Stockholm, had wounded five people.
See also “In Sweden, the land of the open door, anti-Muslim sentiment finds a foothold”, New York Times, 2 January 2015