STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Hours after the truck attack that killed four people in the heart of Stockholm, Muslim taxi driver Abdi Dahir found himself in a suffocating choke-hold from a man sitting in the back seat.
Struggling to breathe, Dahir, who moved to Sweden from Somalia as a child, felt he could die too, at the hands of an angry passenger who blamed the country’s openness to Muslim immigrants for the attack that afternoon.
Anti-Muslim anger is putting the Nordic country’s deep-rooted liberal traditions to the test, after a man hijacked a beer truck and rammed it into a busy downtown pedestrian mall.
At the time of the attack, the suspect, 39-year-old Rakhmat Akilov from Uzbekistan, had applied for asylum but had been rejected and faced an expulsion order, making him one of more than 12,000 people wanted for deportation in Sweden. In court on Tuesday his lawyer said he had confessed to a terrorist crime.
Europe’s most welcoming nation to asylum seekers has tightened immigration policy in recent years and is considering new measures after Friday’s attack, including better policing of deportation orders and banning membership of terrorist groups.
It is also bracing for rising intolerance and hate crimes.