Minimal damage was done to the mosque. Photo: Mathias Øgendal/Scanpix
Danish police said Sunday they had arrested a man on suspicion of torching an Islamic centre in Copenhagen's Nordvest district earlier in the day.
“At 11.31am, the police were informed that a man had started a fire by throwing a flammable liquid … at the Muslim centre,” a police statement said.
The fire, which caused only superficial damage to the outside of the building, was quickly contained, police said. Some 40 people were inside the building at the time.
The suspect, who was born in 1980, will appear in court on Monday. Police said that the suspect has been previously convicted on charges that include vandalism.
The building complex belongs to the Islamic Society in Denmark (Det Islamiske Trossamfund), whose members also worship at an adjoining mosque. The group denounced the fire as “an act of terrorism” on its website.
This act “was likely the result of political and religious motives… As tragic at it is, it unfortunately does not surprise us,” the centre said.
Since February, when Omar El-Hussein, a young Dane of Palestinian origin, shot dead a filmmaker and an unarmed Jewish security guard outside a synagogue, Denmark's Muslim community has feared being viewed with suspicion.
Those concerns were amplified after more than 50 graves were destroyed at the Muslim cemetery in the Copenhagen suburb of Brøndby in June.
Out of Denmark's population of 5.7 million, nine percent are foreign-born, of whom some 296,000 originate from “non-Western” countries, official statistics show.