Injuries and arrests in riots in Sweden against ultra acts of Koran burning
The Swedish police made 26 arrests in the riots registered in different parts of the country last weekend, as a result of a series of Islamophobic concentrations in which it was called to “burn the Koran” and in which far-rightists and protesters of the opposite sign converged.
According to Swedish public television SVT, 8 of those arrests occurred on Sunday in the city of Norrköping, about 100 kilometers south of Stockholm, where there were also three wounded by blank shots when the police tried to disperse the concentrates.
The rest of the arrests were made in the neighboring town of Linkoping, where protests were also registered against the calls launched in various parts of the country by the far-right party “Stram Kurs” -“Firm Course”-.
The leader of this radical group, the Swedish-Danish Rasmus Paludan, had organized rallies in several cities, including Stockholm, throughout these festivities, at each of which he announced the burning of a copy of the Koran.
On Saturday there were already serious altercations in Malmö, where a bus was set on fire and other vehicles were damaged at the point where that concentration, which had been authorized, was to be held.
Similar incidents had occurred on Friday between far-rightists and counter-demonstrators in the city of Örebro, where several policemen were injured.
Interior and Justice Minister Morgan Johansson of the Social Democrats condemned the violence against the police, sent to protect far-right acts, and said there would be a “tough” response.
“Those who attack the police are criminal perpetrators of violence, and the only way to deal with them is ‘hard on hard,’” Johansson said. “Go home. Immediately. Respect that Sweden is a democracy,” added the minister, who defended the acts of the extreme right as a form of freedom of expression.
Of Paludan, Johansson said that “even fools have freedom of speech.”
“Firm Course” is a fringe xenophobic party, led by lawyer Paludan, a dual Swedish-Danish national, who campaigns for the banning of Islam and the expulsion of non-European immigrants.
Paludan, who was convicted in Denmark of racist slurs, has been on a “tour” of Sweden in recent days, targeting neighborhoods with a large Muslim population to burn the Koran there and sparking violent counter-demonstrations along the way.
Paludan has gained some notoriety with the spread of provocative and xenophobic videos on social media. After having agitated in the past for electoral campaigns in Denmark, he now intends to do so in Sweden, where legislative elections will be held in September.
His calls to “burn the Koran” have provoked reactions from several Muslim governments. The Iraqi government protested on Sunday for what it considered a “serious offense” and a “provocation” towards Muslims, also coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan.
The acting Swedish ambassador in Tehran was summoned by the Iranian authorities to pass on their condemnation for these concentrations, which in Iran’s opinion are held “under the pretext of freedom of expression with the support of the Swedish Police.”
Saudi Arabia also “condemned the actions of certain extremists in Sweden and their provocations against Muslims,” according to its official agency. There have also been condemnatory reactions from Malaysia.