Serious scenes of violence have dotted the country for several days following an anti-Islam tour by a far-right group.
The Swedish police raised this Monday to 40 injured, including 26 policemen, the balance of the serious acts of violence that occurred in several cities in the country as a result of a “tour” of an extreme right group that wanted to burn the Koran.
The management of this anti-Islamic tour has also provoked the condemnation of several Muslim countries: after Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Turkish diplomacy deplored this Monday “the reluctance to prevent provocative and Islamophobic acts (…) under the guise of freedom of expression”while a demonstration was taking place in front of the Swedish embassy in Iran.
to the cries of“Allah Akbar” (God is great), the first counter-demonstrations against the arrival in Sweden of the leader of the Danish anti-Islamic party “Hard Line”, Rasmus Paludan, had degenerated on Thursday into violence against the police, in districts with strong Muslim communities in the Swedish cities Norrköping and Linkoping.
The scenes of rioting then spread over the weekend to several other cities, where Paludan, who has dual Danish and Swedish nationality, set fire to or planned to set fire to copies of Islam’s holy book.
“We tried to kill cops”
The Swedish police, whose twenty vehicles were burned or damaged, consider that they were the main target of what they described as“violent disturbances”. “Many things suggest that the police were the main target, rather than the organizers”Jonas Hysing, commander of special operations, told a news conference.
“We tried to kill cops”The country’s police chief, Anders Thornberg, was moved by his side. “Criminal individuals took advantage of the situation to show violence” and this “apart from the demonstrations”, also stated. Swedish police also suspect the violence was supported from abroad, but no country has been designated.
Monday was marked by a return to calm, with the departure from Sweden of Mr. Paludan, who had returned to Denmark.
More than forty people, including several minors, were arrested in these clashes that also took place in Malmö, Örebro and Rinkeby, a suburb of the capital Stockholm. The violence culminated on Sunday when police had to fire warning shots in Norrköping, wounding three people with shots they said were caused by ricochets. Apart from the police, 14 people were injured.
“About 200 participants were violent in the place and the police had to intervene with weapons in self-defense,” according to Mr. Hysing. Clashes with police, punctuated by stone-throwing and car burning, led to 26 arrests in Norrköping and Linköping on Sunday.
In Malmö, where Mr. Paludan burned a Koran on Saturday, the night from Sunday to Monday was hectic, like the day before, in particular with a fire in a school.
A provocation sometimes “tolerated”
From Denmark to Belgium to France, Rasmus Paludan has become accustomed in recent years to projects to set fire to copies of the Koran, usually in immigrant neighborhoods with a large Muslim population. The events are often banned by the police, but sometimes tolerated in the name of freedom of demonstration despite the high tensions caused by the demonstrations, like Thursday in Sweden.
These authorizations arouse incomprehension in the Arab-Muslim world. “The vile attacks in Sweden against our holy book, the Koran, show that the lessons of the past have not been learned”Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Twitter, deploring that “Hate crimes are openly tolerated under the guise of free speech.”
Iraqi diplomacy had summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires on Sunday, denouncing an act “provocative for the sentiments of Muslims and offensive to what is sacred to them.” Saudi Arabia also had “condemned the actions of certain extremists in Sweden and their provocations against Muslims”according to its official agency.