For the third night in a row, violent riots have erupted across Sweden in reaction to a far-right party’s announcement of public Koran burning events. So far, 26 police officers, as well as 14 protestors and civilians, have been injured in the rioting. Despite the long Easter weekend, Swedish police held a special press conference today (Monday) to update on the number of people injured and to say that “criminal elements” are among the demonstrators.
For the third night in a row, riots erupted in Rosengord, an area on the outskirts of Malmo where immigrants and refugees from all over the world, many of them Muslims, are concentrated. According to the Swedish newspaper “Dagens Neihater,” arson and disturbances were reported at 23:00 (local time), and police were dispatched to the area, dispersing the protesters with tear gas around 03:00 (local time). In the city, a bus was set on fire, cars and garbage cans were set on fire, and police officers were stoned. The attack on the bus resulted in no injuries.
Riots were also reported in Barbro and Linkoping, where 18 rioters, four of them were juveniles, were arrested. Unknown individuals flung stones and shattered shop windows in Northsping, as well as attacking the police station with stones. Automobiles were set on fire. After the far-right Stram Kurs (“Rigid Line”) and its leader, Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paloden, proposed the burning of the Koran in the city, rioting erupted in both cities. Even though the events were approved by the police, they did not take place in the end. Paloden has recently been active in Sweden after being convicted of inciting racism in Denmark. In the name of the Scandinavian country’s freedom of expression legislation, he advocates for the prohibition of Islam and plans to burn Koran texts.
Paloden also aims to demonstrate the Swedish police’s impotence in dealing with violence perpetrated by Muslim immigrants, a topic that has dominated the news in recent years. In the meanwhile, he declared that he had canceled two instances “because the police had demonstrated that they were unable to defend themselves and me.” He has a history of burning the Koran, which he has recorded. He was barred from entering Belgium and deported from France as a result of his actions.
“They are not counter-demonstrations… these are violent riots,” the Swedish police chief declared today of the rioting. “The demonstrations are suspected to be related to criminal groups,” he stated. He went on to say that the police, not Folden or the events he plans to conduct, are the target of the demonstrators in his opinion. Protesters threw stones at a handful of Stram Kurs party members, including Folden, at a rally in Malmö on Saturday, and clashed with police.