Syrians in Gothenburg scared by Isis graffiti

From the Swedish edition of The Local

A Christian Syrian teenager has told The Local how he fears he is “going to die” after threats containing Isis symbols were painted on his family’s takeaway shop, amid growing safety concerns among the Assyrian community in west Sweden. Jacob Asmar and his family discovered the message “convert or die” scrawled on the walls of their pizzeria in red paint earlier this week.

…the 16-year-old told The Local on Friday. “We Assyrians are worried – especially my family because we own the restaurant – about how there could be big trouble.”


The pizzeria is one of a number of businesses in the Tynnered area of the city that have been targeted by graffiti appearing to support the radical Islamist group Isis (also known as IS) in recent weeks. “It feels like persecution of Jews in the 30s when Jews in Germany had Stars of David painted on its doors. Now it happens here,” said Jacob’s father Yusuf Asmar in a separate interview with The Gothenburg Post.


Representatives of several Assyrian associations called an emergency meeting on Thursday night to discuss ongoing claims that Sweden’s second largest city is becoming a recruitment hub for Isis, which has already targeted the Christian minority in Syria.


“We know that Gothenburg is one of IS’ recruitment bases, and we hear about people who express sympathy for IS here in Tynnered,” Josef Garis, president of Assyriska Distriktet i Göteborg,  told the Gothenburg Post. 


Jacob Asmar, who has Syrian parents but grew up in Sweden, told The Local he felt the mood was “definitely” changing in his home city as fighting continues in Syria, causing more citizens to flee to the Nordic nation and elsewhere in Europe. “All those people who are coming to Gothenburg (…) I don’t think they are all good people. I think many of them are from this terrorist group. They want the whole of Europe to be like them and they are coming to Europe for that [reason].”


Police in the city say they are investigating the graffiti but have admitted that it may be difficult to get to the bottom of the alleged recent vandalism crimes. “With no witnesses or forensic evidence that can be traced, it is almost impossible to investigate such cases. The only possibility is if someone has seen something and we get tips from the public,” Bertil Claesson, a spokesperson for the force explained to the Gothenburg Post.


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