An arson attack over the Easter weekend on a Muslim sanctuary in the Spanish city of Ceuta marked another step in what some experts fear is a growing incidence of Islamophobia in the country. Ceuta lies on a small peninsula in North Africa and a third of the population is Muslim. The burning of the Sidi Bel Abbas sanctuary comes just three months after another sanctuary in the enclave was attacked by arsonists.
El País newspaper yesterday listed a number of mosques and other Muslim targets that have been ransacked, burned or had copies of the Qur’an set alight by intruders. At least four towns in the eastern region of Catalonia have seen attacks on mosques and Muslim butchers, some with Molotov cocktails. In the eastern town of Reus, police detained two car-loads of skinheads armed with Molotov cocktails as they headed towards the local mosque.
The train bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid two years ago and growing Islamophobia since the September 11 attacks were largely to blame. “We never had things like this happen before,” Imad Alnaddar, who is in charge of the main mosque in Valencia, told El País.