Last Saturday evening a man in the Dutch town Enschede threw a fire bomb at a mosque. People (including children) were present in the mosque when it happened and after local residents chased the man he was arrested by the police moments later. The small fire in the mosque was extinguished quickly with only little damage and no injuries.
The public prosecutor states that because of the fact that people (including children) were present in the mosque at the time of the attack they were in danger. It has charged the man, who is from Enschede, with attempted arson attack with a terrorist intent. His house has been searched and the police and public prosecutor do not yet rule out that other people might have been involved as well. According to the public prosecutor the case is an example of terrorist intent because the idea was to instill fear in sections of the Dutch population. It stresses that the public prosecutor acts equally against everyone who prepares for or commits violent acts with a terrorist intent. The man is remains in custody because of the seriousness of the act, the danger of committing such actions again and for reasons of investigation. As far as known he has not been incarcerated in the controverial Terrorism Department (TA) in Rotterdam or Vught.
Islamophobic violence in the Netherlands
The attempted arson attack (and perhaps attempted murder since people were present) follows after a series of threats to several mosques but it is not clear yet if they are related to the attack. Also last November six people were arrested in Enschede for using Nazi salutes, insults and physical violence during an anti-refugee demonstration and 12 pigs’ heads were dumped at a field near the town which had been assigned to become the location for a new centre for asylum seekers. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, although many newly established asylum centres met with relatively minor opposition there have been attacks against refugee centres as well and also many mosques have been targeted with islamophobic and anti-semitic slogans. It is not clear yet as to how these events are related to the attack in Enschede.