Unknown assailants hurled stones at a mosque linked to Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) in Sweden's Malmö late Monday. The attack smashed the windows of the mosque situated inside a cultural complex and comes at a time of tension for Muslims in the country.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) about the attack, Harun Alagöz, head of the association running the mosque, said it had been the subject of a defamation campaign by the Swedish media for months. "They exhibited us as a potential target," Alagöz said. Turkish mosques all across Europe have been targets of a vicious media campaign ahead of a referendum in Turkey and following the July 15 coup attempt. Mosquegoers and imams are accused of spying for Turkey, an allegation vehemently denied by Ankara.
Alagöz did not rule out that the "ugly attack" may have been the work of assailants "out to take revenge for the Stockholm attack." He was referring to Friday's rampage on a busy Stockholm street in which four people were killed when a terror suspect driving a truck plowed into a department store.
Though attacks targeting Turks, particularly by supporters of the terrorist group PKK, are not unusual in Sweden, mosque attacks have been rare. In December, a suspect was arrested for an arson attack targeting a mosque in Malmö on Oct. 11.
Turkish mosques in Europe are often subject to attack, with Germany in particular notorious for a high number of attacks, ranging from arson attempts to the spray painting of hateful slogans and the throwing of parts of pigs, animals deemed unclean in Islam. A Turkish parliamentary committee investigating the targeting of mosques found some 297 attacks occurred between 2001 and 2014, mostly targeting Turkish mosques. German police have been criticized for their failure to identify the suspects responsible for the attacks.