Swedish police investigate fire at mosque as possible arson

Parts of the Imam Ali Mosque lay destroyed by fire in Jarfalla north of Stockholm, Sweden, early Monday May 1, 2017. Swedish police say they are investigating the fire which started late Sunday, causing major damage to a mosque near Stockholm as possible arson. (Anders Wiklund / TT via AP)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson in an attack against a mosque near Stockholm that caused major damage, Swedish police said Monday.

Stockholm police spokesman Lars Bystrom said the suspect was questioned and then arrested, but did not elaborate pending an investigation.

No one was injured in the blaze late Sunday. Only a handful were in the building at the time, but earlier up to 500 people had attended celebrations at the Shiite mosque, one of the largest in the Scandinavian country.

Haider Ibrahim, chairman of the Shiite community in Sweden, told Swedish national news agency TT there had been threats and “expressions of hatred against us.”

Mosque spokesman Akil Zahiri said he was “very troubled” as the mosque wasn’t only his workplace but also “felt like another home.”

Bystrom said it appeared that the fire had been lit from outside the building.

In October, a Syrian man was arrested in an arson attack against a Shiite prayer room in the southwestern city of Malmo. No one was injured in that attack.

As asylum-seekers have flooded into Sweden in recent years, anti-migrant sentiment has grown and there have been increasing xenophobic attacks, including 112 fires last year at refugee reception centers, most of them arson.

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