'Convert or die': Islamic radicals follow Assyrian Christians in Sweden and pursue campaign of persecution

The 'convert or die' message written on the wall of the Asmar family's pizza parlour in Gothenburg, Sweden.(Syrian Academic Foundation)

Christians in multi-cultural Sweden are increasingly finding themselves in a situation similar to what the Jews in Nazi Germany faced just before and during World War II.

But instead of Nazis, the Christian business owners in the Swedish city of Gothenburg are facing persecution from Islamic radicals who have taken advantage of Sweden's open-door immigration policy to assert themselves in the Scandinavian country, a report from Breitbart.com said.

The Christian business owners said they are being threatened by the Islamic newcomers to "convert or die," with the scary messages written on the walls of their establishments.

Recently, Yusuf Asmar, one of the Assyrian Christians who now live in Gothenburg, woke up to find his family's pizza parlour daubed with threats in red paint, Breitbart said.

Other Assyrian Christian families who have sought asylum in Sweden after fleeing persecution from their homeland are also facing threats from Islamic radicals who have followed them.

The Swedish publication Goteborgs-Posten quoted the local Assyrian association's president as saying: "Imagine yourself having fled from persecution in a country and then to find yourself staying next door to ISIS sympathisers here in Sweden. It is everyday life for many people."

Aside from the "convert or die" warning painted on the wall of the Asmar pizzeria—which is written in Swedish but unusually drawn out in a Gothic script—local Assyrian Christians have seen the message "the Caliphate is here" and the Islamic glyph for "N" (?) written on their walls. The "N" stands for Nazareth.

In Syria and other Arab countries the "?"is a sign of persecution, marking inhabitants out as devotees of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, which means they are targets for persecution.

Asmar compares their situation to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany. He said: "It feels extremely uncomfortable that this has come to Gothenburg, Sweden. There is no doubt that it is directed at me as a Christian and Assyrian... It feels like persecution of Jews in the 30s when Jews in Germany had Stars of David painted on its doors. Now it happens here."

He said Islamic radicals, including ISIS militants, are thriving in Sweden where they are free to roam around.

Despite the threats reported by the Assyrian Christian community, the police have done little to calm the people's nerves. Police inspector Bertil Claesson said the threatening graffiti written on the walls of Christian business establishments could not be classified as a hate crime since Gothenburg has yet to establish a special task force to look into such things. "No witnesses or forensic evidence that can be traced, it is almost impossible to investigate such cases. The only possibility is if someone has seen something and we get tips from the public," the police officer said.

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