Vandals desecrated the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malmö (southern Sweden) seven days in a row this month, breaking windows and demolishing a statue of Jesus.
The attentive folks at L’Observatoire de la Christianophobie reported Monday that for the week ending August 18, the church — located in the district of Västra Skrävlinge — was repeatedly profaned and is now protected by a nightly patrol.
Among the damage, a statue of Jesus was destroyed inside the church building and over the course of the week some 30 church windows were smashed with stones. The perpetrators also hurled other objects into the church through the broken windows.
In the aftermath of the incidents, the church suspended religious services to allow the building to be cleaned of the large amount of broken glass that had accumulated on the pews. In the meantime, the church was obliged to hold Sunday services outdoors, but this past Sunday the church managed to return to holding worship indoors again.
The Västra Skrävlinge church’s supervising priest, Mikael Göth, said that the escalating destruction has caused concern among his congregation. “People are distraught, anxious, and worried for their safety,” Göth said. “We are grieving.”
“We got a wave of seven nights in a row — or nights,” Göth said. “They went to church, smashed windows, made a disturbance, and knocked over the statue. Now we have guards and the police are involved.”
It is still unclear who is behind the vandalism, Göth said. “At the moment we are not speculating about that. We just hope we can stop it.”
“A church is a church,” he added. “It means much more than just the building; it is a place where you feel protected. So when this happens it is distressing.”
The district of Västra Skrävlinge attained international notoriety in 2016 when a local Muslim, Osama Krayem, became one of Europe’s most hunted men and eventually was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the coordinated terrorist attacks in Brussels that killed thirty-two civilians and injured more than 300 others.
In April of that year, Belgian police apprehended the 23-year-old — who by then had assumed the new ISIS-given identity of Naim al-Hamed — in Brussels, on suspicion of buying the bags used to hide the bombs in the Brussels metro. During his interrogation, Krayem confessed that he was the second metro bomber, claiming he felt regret at the last moment and so never tried to detonate his suicide bomb.
Born in Västra Skrävlinge, Osama Krayem grew up as part of the local Muslim community in the Rosengård district in Malmö but eventually enrolled as a fighter with the Islamic State in Syria.