The Swedish riots against the far-right Koran-burning demonstration have sparked unrest

The Swedish riots against the far-right Koran-burning demonstration have sparked unrest

The Swedish riots against the far-right Koran-burning demonstration have sparked unrest

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Riot and serious clashes erupted since Thursday in Sweden on the sidelines of demonstrations by a Danish far-right and anti-Islam group, which intended to burn the Koran in several cities. On Sunday, police said three people were injured after apparently being hit by police bullets during a clash.

Danish-Swedish extremist Rasmus Paludan in 2017 founded the Danish far-right movement Stram Kurs, or Hard Line, which trumpets a strong anti-immigrant and anti-Islam agenda. On Thursday and Friday, the holiday streamed video of Paludan burning the Quran, the holy book of Islam, in several Swedish cities. Paludan is known for staging such fires.

During the demonstrations on Friday, demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed in the central city of Orebro. Clashes occurred on Saturday in the southwestern city of Malmö, which Swedish police described as a “messy night” with many “disturbances in the form of fire and police attacks”, as well as Molotov cocktails and stone throwing. Vehicles, including a city bus, were set on fire. In a statement, police said their aim was to maintain the “freedom of expression and constitutionally protected assembly” of the authorized assembly and counter-demonstrators.

On Sunday, Paludan posted on social media that he would call off demonstrations in Linköping and Norrköping, neighboring towns in eastern Sweden. because the police had shown that they were “unable” to protect themselves and Paludan.

On the same day, three people in Norrköping were reportedly hit by police bullets after authorities fired warning shots as they attempted to disperse protesters angry at the recent demonstrations, the Associated Press reported. “They appear to have been hit by rebounds,” police said in a statement, adding that the three were not seriously injured but were receiving medical treatment.

In a Sunday interview with the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told the rioters to “go home”. Johansson called Paludan a “crazy right-wing extremist whose only goal is to lead violence and divisions”, but added that “Sweden is a democracy and in a democracy, even fools have freedom of speech”.

In 2020, Paludan was sentenced to three months in prison on charges including racism and defamation.

In 2019, his party came close to entering parliament in Denmark. Although Stram Kurs did not get a seat that year, Denmark notably saw a mainstream shift in its anti-immigration policies. In 2018, the right-wing nationalist and populist Swedish Democrats, a group of neo-Nazi origins, won about 18% of the vote in the Swedish general election. Its push has been attributed by analysts in large part to anxieties about crime and migration.

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