Alhemskyrkan Church in the town of Skellefteå was vandalized by Islamic religious extremists as perpetrators sprayed hateful and threatening messages on its white walls in black ink. Nevertheless, the story was conspicuously absent from major Swedish media, the news outlet Samhällsnytt reported.
On September 3, the church staff discovered that the house of worship had been desecrated with graffiti; the intimidating messages included words like "jihad" and "kill." According to the local newspaper Folkblad Västerbotten, the police said they were particularly serious about this form of hate attacks against churches, and that they didn't regard them as belonging to the same category as regular "tags" popular among teenage street gangs.
The Church of Sweden and Swedish Radio instead chose to downplay the incident as innocent scribblings, without even mentioning which church was vandalized or the explicitly anti-Christian nature of the graffiti.
Church of Sweden Communicator P-O Sjödin said that the clergy made an active decision not to comment on this case and instead decided to "lie low" in the hope that the graffiti attacks would simply stop and be forgotten. At the same time, Sjödin admitted that it is not the first time a church in Skellefteå had been defaced, something he found "shameful and regrettable." In the same interview with Swedish Radio, Sjödin called the perpetrators of the attack "rascals."
In May this year, the defacing of St. Olov's church in the very same town with the word "jihad" triggered a public uproar, as Swedish national broadcaster SVT chose to unpublish a photograph of the vandalized church it deemed "too sensitive" to be shown. The very same church communicator P-O Sjödin added insult to injury by claiming the "jihad" graffiti to be a "common doodle."
Jihad is an Arabic word originally meaning "striving." However, in many Islamic contexts it denotes the desire for holy war.
Skellefteå is a major industrial and mining town in Västerbotten County in Northern Sweden. With about 35,000 inhabitants, it is one of the largest in the area. Historically, it has been referred to as "Goldtown" due to its mining industry.