Last Thursday morning, members of the Stockholm Muslim congregation arrived at the mosque on Södermalm to find the doors were covered in Nazi graffiti. By Monday morning, however, a much more positive display had taken their place: bouquets of pink and white flowers were taped over the black swastikas, and a note of solidarity was tied to the door.
"For every hate crime there is a flower," the sign read. "An attack on you is an attack on Sweden! We stand together!"
Flowers were also placed outside the mosque in Fittja, which had its windows smashed and pig feet tossed in back in November, as well as a Hagsätra church which had also been vandalized with swastikas last Friday.
"I thought society was moving the wrong direction. But now my view changed 180 degrees," Omar Mustafa, chairman of the Swedish Islamic Association, told The Local. "Members of the congregation arrived for the morning prayer at 7am and called me saying there were flowers on the mosque. They sent me a picture and I felt strength and encouragement in a whole new way."
The mosque in central Stockholm, which opened its doors in 2000, is no stranger to vandalism, receiving threats and falling prey to hate crimes each month. But Wednesday's attack was unusual in its magnitude and directness.
"We’re used to receiving hateful emails and letters, so they’re not abnormal. But they also don’t feel so real," Mustafa mused. "But I’ve never seen something like this before, right on the front door. It was a very strong message of hate."