Representatives of several Assyrian associations attended an emergency meeting as a direct result of several stores in Tynnered being scrawled with threats and messages linked to the terrorist group IS. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the situation in Gothenburg where many Assyrians feel insecure and persecuted.
About 10 thousand Assyrians, a Christian ethnic group originating in the region that is modern Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey – now live in Gothenburg in Sweden. They are extremely worried of the developments they see. They say Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city is one of ISIS recruitment bases and we hear about people who express sympathy for IS in Tynnered. Imagine fleeing persecution in one country and then finding yourself living next door to a IS-sympathizers in what you believed to be a safe haven. Joseph Garis, president of the Assyrian district of Gothenburg, one of the largest community groups for Assyrians in west Sweden says, “It is everyday life for many people”.
In an interview with The Gothenburg Post, Joseph Asmar, the owner of a pizzeria in Tynnered said when he went to open the store on Sunday, he found someone had written the words “Convert or die” with a red pen on the premises, even the Arabic letter nun((ن)=N) had been painted next to the shop door.
The letter nun is the first in the Arabic word nasara used as a word for Christians. In the Iraqi city of Mosul, the letter has been used by the terrorist group to mark the houses of Christian families. The families who received the Islamic glyph for ‘N’ symbol sprayed on their doors were invited to convert to Islam, pay a special tax or die before ISIS took control of the city in 2014. Thousands of Assyrians fled country fearing the jihadists would take their lives. . In Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world, the ن has come to be a sign of persecution, marking inhabitants out as devotees of Nazareth – Jesus Christ – and thus fair targets for persecution.
“It is extremely uncomfortable that this has come to Gothenburg, Sweden. There is no doubt that it is directed at the Christians and Assyrians”, said Yusuf Asmar who runs the pizzeria with his brother.
Right near the pizzeria, an Assyrian cafe owners have received their roll-nerklottrad with IS symbols and messages “caliphate are here.”
– It feels like persecution of Jews in the 30th century when Jews in Germany had Stars of David painted on its doors. Now it happens here, says Yusuf Asmar.
Both Yusuf Asmar and Joseph Gari indicate that Assyrians is a group which is particularly exposed by IS. Last week released the terror group a video which executes three Assyrians by shooting them in the head.
– In the 80’s was the Nazis who created concern among Assyrian and other immigrant groups. Now it IS plus it’s on a whole different level. Politicians and police need to wake up now. It is not enough to speak of IS and various investigations. Concrete action is needed now, says Josef Garis.
According to the police has been established in the police force graffiti at Opaltorget. Possible offenses are vandalism and assault. But according to Inspector Bertil Claesson, the crimes are difficult to investigate.
– 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, says Bertil Claesson.
He points out that police in the West Region to launch a special hate group after the end of the year which will only work with similar cases. But until they are treated as ordinary cases.
Pizzeria owner Yusuf Asmar adds however, greater responsibility on the politicians.
– It feels like the IS-followers can come and go in Sweden as they please. At the same time, we Assyrians feel unsafe. Politicians must take it seriously, says Yusuf Asmar.