Police in Denmark are investigating the second desecration of a Muslim cemetery in three months. As many as 60 tombstones were smashed and damaged last weekend in the city of Odense, according to local media outlets. The vandalism was reported Monday and confirmed by Odense officials Tuesday, the Local, a Denmark-based news site, reported. A spokesperson for the police said they had not yet focused in on any suspects and therefore could not confirm a motive.
The country’s prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, condemned the vandalism in a Facebook post shortly after the attack was announced. "It makes me angry! We don't know the perpetrator's motives – pure stupidity, religious fanaticism or a totally misunderstood political signal – but no matter what, it is simply repulsive and should be condemned," he wrote.
The city’s mayor, Anker Boye, said there would be a demonstration in a show of support for the cemetery Wednesday and encouraged attendees to bring along candles and flowers.
— DOAM (@doammuslims) September 2, 2015
Mirna Ugljen, whose father was buried in the cemetery, discovered it when she went to lie flowers on her father’s grave. “I began to cry because it was so terrible. They are dead, they haven’t done anything. They should be allowed to rest in peace,” she told public broadcaster DR, according to the Local.
The vandalism comes as Denmark has seen the growth of right-wing, anti-Islam organizations. Following an extremist Islamist attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris, a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident was founded in Germany and spread throughout much of Europe -- including to Denmark, which has long been known for its tolerance.
Last month, a 35-year-old man was arrested after an arson attack on an Islamic center in Copenhagen.
Denmark has been the site of several small-level attacks carried out by Muslim extremists in recent years. Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a 22-year-old Danish citizen, was responsible for killing two people during a shooting rampage in August. He was reportedly inspired by the Islamic State group’s call for attacks around the world.