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Danish far-right extremist demonstrations cause riots in Sweden

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AFP/Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish far-right extremist demonstrations cause riots in Sweden
Counter-protesters throw stones at the police in Sveaparken in Örebro, where Rasmus Paludan, party leader of the Danish right-wing extremist party received permission for a gathering on Good Friday. Photo: Kicki Nilsson / TT / Ritzau Scanpix

Rasmus Paludan, the leader of an extremist far-right party in Denmark, says he is back in Copenhagen after huge riots broke out in Sweden when he tried to carry out demonstrations, involving burning copies of the Koran.

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The leader of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party, who has a criminal conviction in Denmark for inciting racial hatred, intends to stand in Swedish legislative elections in September. He does not yet have the necessary number of signatures to secure his candidature and has been on a “tour” of Sweden.

Paludan was previously banned from entering Sweden for two years. But that ban was rendered invalid after it was confirmed he had Swedish citizenship due to the nationality of one of his parents.

Rasmus Paludan in 2019.

Leader of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party, Rasmus Paludan in 2019. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Paludan came to prominence in Denmark through his anti-Islam demonstrations in areas with sizeable minority ethnic communities. The main feature of the demonstrations is the burning and desecration of the Koran.

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On Thursday 14th April, Paludan's party had been given permission to hold their demonstration in the Skäggetorp neighbourhood in Linköping, where over 50 percent of inhabitants were born abroad.

Riots started in the area before the demonstration. Footage from the scene in the city of Linköping on Sweden’s east coast showed a car burning and dozens of masked people attacking police cars.

Three police officers had to be taken to hospital and two people were arrested.

 

The riots have continued to escalate over the Easter weekend in Norrköping, Linköping and the Malmö district of Rosengård where a school was set on fire. Police said officers wounded three people after firing warning shots during Sunday’s clashes.

Cars on fire in Rosengård, Malmö on Sunday night after riots..

Cars on fire in Rosengård, Malmö on Sunday night. Police went to the scene with a large number of vehicles and fired tear gas to disperse crowds.Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT / Ritzau Scanpix

According to Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish police Jonas Hysing, 26 police officers have been injured, 20 police vehicles have been damaged or destroyed, while 14 civilians have been injured. 26 people have been arrested so far. 

In all, about 200 people have been involved in the riots. According to police, those involved have links to criminal networks.

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“Criminals have profited from the situation to show violence toward society, without any link to the demonstrations,” the Swedish national police chief Anders Thornberg said at a press conference on Monday.

“These are extremely serious crimes that have targeted our society. It’s worse than violent riots, from my point of view. This is something else. These are not ordinary counter-protesters”, the national police chief added.

He believes those involved have focused on harming the police.  “Attempts were made to kill police officers”, he said.

Counter-protesters set fire to a police bus in Sveaparken in Örebro, where Rasmus Paludan, received permission for a rally on Good Friday. Photo: Kicki Nilsson / TT Ritzau Scanpix

Far-right party leader Rasmus Paludan told Norwegian TV2 on Monday that he is taking a week off from his election tour in Sweden for at least a week.

“I am in Copenhagen, and there will probably only be new election meetings in Sweden in a week”, he said on Monday.

According to spokeswoman for the Swedish police, Carina Skagerlind, the police are not aware that permits have been granted for upcoming Paludan voter meetings.

Paludan has previously claimed that Swedish immigration policy is a threat to Denmark and therefore justifies his activism in the country. He also argued that by demonstrating in Sweden, he will persuade Danish voters to elect his party.

In the wake of the recent incidents, Iraq’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires in Baghdad on Sunday.

It warned that the affair could have “serious repercussions” on “relations between Sweden and Muslims in general, both Muslim and Arab countries and Muslim communities in Europe”.

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