Long seen as a beacon of tolerance, Sweden is struggling to contain a surge in anti-Muslim attacks as it continues its generous policy of welcoming asylum seekers from war-torn Iraq and Syria.
The United Nations' Human Rights body has expressed concern about the increasing number of hate crimes in Sweden, a country long regarded as one of the most tolerant in the world. The Swedish government says it is planning a strategy to challenge growing Islamophobia in the country following a string of arson attacks on mosques. Mainstream political parties have forged an alliance to try to isolate the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, who oppose the commitment to accept 100,000 asylum seekers a year from Syria and Iraq.
But as support for the right-wing party is on the rise, moderate Muslims are also appealing for the government's help to fight Islamic extremists. “We need the government to step in and support us (...) because these groups are backed up with a lot of money,” says Samir Muric, imam of the Eslov mosque in southern Sweden. “When you go out there in public and condemn them you are becoming a target.”
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