SWEDEN – 40 injured and 26 people arrested. This is the latest assessment of the violent clashes that are taking place in Sweden for several days between the police and protesters protesting against meetings of a small group ofextreme right who is proud to burn the Koran.
“In some cases, it can even be an attempted murder and, in all cases, a serious assault by the police,” National Police Chief Anders Thornberg said on Monday, April 18, during a conference. of press. The extent of the injuries was not disclosed, but according to local media, the injuries were minor.
The violence began on Thursday in Linköping and Norrköping (south). These two cities were the first stages of the tour of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam group “Hard Line”, led by the Danish-Swedish Rasmus Paludan. The group intends to burn the Koran in the public square at rallies organized in neighborhoods with a large Muslim population.
Until Thursday, the Swedes had protested against these demonstrations in Linköping. The radical far-right group was unable to reach the scene and the situation then degenerated between counter-demonstrators and police, according to images broadcast on social networks. According to the authorities, three members of the police were injured.
The other demonstration was scheduled for the early afternoon in the nearby town of Norrköping, but could not be held there either. Incidents were reported there too, with vehicles burned, according to police. Rasmus Paludan then went to Örebro (centre), then to the suburbs of Stockholm, and finally to Malmö (south).
In Örebro, the demonstration took place in a park close to the city center and not in the neighborhood originally planned. The demonstrators were present to protest against this far-right movement, but the violence escalated again between them and the police.
As for Malmö, the fires broke out overnight from Saturday to Sunday. The “Hard Line” demonstration had moved from a Landskrona district to a parking lot in Malmö, the neighboring big city, to avoid overflow, but a car tried to break through the protective barriers. The driver was arrested. Protests then broke out in different parts of Malmö, with stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown at the police.
“Criminals took advantage of the situation to show violence” and this “on the sidelines of the demonstrations,” police chief Anders Thornberg denounced during the press conference, asking for more media. “We are few. Our numbers are growing, but they are not up to the problems within the company, ”he lamented.
“You should never resort to violence”
“In Sweden people can express their opinions, whether they are in good or bad taste, it is part of our democracy. No matter what you think, you should never resort to violence. We will never accept it”, lamented the head of government Magdalena Andersson to the TT news agency.
“That’s exactly the kind of reaction that he (Rasmus Paludan, editor’s note) want to see. The very purpose is to inspire people to oppose each other,” she added.
Clashes in Norrköping and Linköping continued on Sunday, although the small group gave up going back there. 26 people were arrested after throwing stones and burning cars. “About 200 participants were violent at the scene and the police had to intervene with weapons in self-defense,” special operations chief Jonas Hysing said during the news conference.
“The police fired several warning shots. Three people appear to have been hit by ricochets and are currently being treated at hospital,” police wrote in a statement. The three injured, whose condition is unknown, are also “under arrest, suspected of a crime”, it is specified.
In Malmö, where Rasmus 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.
Rasmus Paludan, a repeat offender
Binational, Rasmus Paludan, who intends to stand in the Swedish legislative elections in September, currently does not have the necessary signatures to run. In 2019, this training lawyer, who was convicted of racist insults, had already tried his luck in Denmark, his native country, where he had barely collected 10,000 votes.
Also youtuber, has caused incidents on several occasions in recent years. In 2019, he burned a Quran wrapped in bacon and was blocked by Facebook for a month after posting a photo that conflated immigration and crime.
In November 2020 he was arrested in France and later deported. Five other activists were arrested in Belgium shortly after, accused of wanting to “spread hate” by burning a Koran in Brussels.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia warn Sweden
Following the events in Sweden, Iraqi diplomacy announced in a press release that it had summoned the Swedish chargé d’affaires on Sunday. She believes that allowing far-right supporters to demonstrate with the desire to burn a copy of the Koran is an act “provocative for the feelings of Muslims and offensive to what is sacred to them.”
And he warns of the “serious repercussions” of this case in “relations between Sweden and Muslims in general, whether in Muslim or Arab countries, or in Muslim communities in Europe.”
Saudi Arabia he also “condemned the actions of certain extremists in Sweden and their provocations against Muslims,” according to his official agency.
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