The bombs had barely exploded in Stockholm's bustling shopping district before members of the far-right, Islam-bashing Sweden Democrats rushed to their blogs and Twitter feeds. "Told you so," said one. "Finally" tweeted another.A wonderful view of things, isn't it? Worry more about the "view of Muslims" more than you do the actual safety of your own citizens.
The government and just about every editorial page has warned against blaming Sweden's growing Muslim minority for the Dec. 11 suicide attack carried out by an Iraqi-born Swede, who appears to have been radicalized in Britain.
But the far-right fringe is doing just that in another challenge to Sweden's famed tolerance, already frayed in recent months by the Sweden Democrats' entry into Parliament and a serial gunman's sniper attacks against people with dark skin.
Authorities say there's a risk that even more extreme groups, long marginalized in Sweden, will use the opportunity to advance their positions.
"The biggest worry isn't that the Muslim community will become radicalized but what this means for the view of Muslims in Sweden," said Erik Akerlund, police chief in Rinkeby, an immigrant suburb of Stockholm nicknamed "Little Mogadishu" because of its large Somali community.
While investigating the attack, the Swedish security service is also keeping an eye on any potential reaction from right-wing extremists, said Anders Thornberg, the agency's director of operations. Those groups have kept a low profile since a series of attacks on immigrants and left-wing activists in the 1980s and '90s.This overwrought concern with the feelings of Muslims is like a virus spreading across the globe, as witnessed most recently in Portland.
The suicide bomber, Taimour Abdulwahab, killed himself and injured two people when some of the explosives he was wearing exploded among panicked Christmas shoppers in downtown Stockholm.
Police suspect the explosives went off by mistake too early, and that he had planned to detonate them in a more crowded place like a shopping center or train station.
One theory is that Abdulwahab had a problem with the equipment and walked off a busy pedestrian street to a side street to fix it "and that's when something happened," Thornberg said.
An audio file sent shortly before the blast from his cell phone referred to Sweden's military presence in Afghanistan and an image by a Swedish artist that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, enraging many Muslims.
Anti-Muslim bloggers said the bombing came as no surprise, heaping blame on Sweden's generous immigration policy. Tens of thousands of people from the Middle East, Somalia and the Balkans have fled to Sweden in the past two decades. No Western country admitted more Iraqi refugees amid the bloodshed following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Sweden Democrats lawmaker William Petzall wrote "I hate to say it, but we told you so," on his Twitter account.
"Is this the time when you're allowed to say: 'I told you so'? finally," said another tweet from party leader Jimmie Akesson's secretary, Alexandra Brunell. She later apologized, saying the wording was unfortunate.
The attack should serve as an "awakening" for Swedes, party lawmaker Kent Ekeroth wrote on his blog.
"What I mean is that people's attitudes about what Islam is and stands for are naive," Ekeroth told The Associated Press. "When finally there's been a terror attack on Swedish soil, then maybe people will understand. It's unfortunate that this is what it takes."
Also churning in my head is regret over the stress that the incident is causing for our Portland-area Muslim community. The suspect, Mohamed Osman Mohamud," ruined it for everybody," is how one Somalian man, Ahmed Ali, put it in comments to The Oregonian newspaper. "Our religion says we cannot kill innocent people. This is the reason we left Somalia."It seems the only hope we have of defeating this menace is if the enemies of civilization laugh themselves to death.