There are no signs of Easter peace in Sweden: police cars on fire, civilians and civil servants injured – riots and riots broke out in several towns across the Scandinavian country on Sunday for the third day in a row. A total of 44 suspects have been arrested so far.
In the southern town of Norrköpping, police said they fired warning shots in self-defense. Three demonstrators were injured. So there were 14 other injured civilians. According to police, a total of 26 officers were injured and 20 service vehicles were damaged or destroyed.
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The protests were sparked by meetings of the far-right Stram Kurs (Strammer Kurs) party. Their party leader, the lawyer Rasmus Paludan, is currently on tour in various Swedish towns and organizes meetings where a Koran must be burned at each one. It also happened at police-sanctioned performances in Jonköping and the capital Stockholm, which sparked violent protests. Some other planned Quran burnings ultimately did not take place or were postponed.
Paludan, 40, has Danish and Swedish nationality and plans to run with a Swedish affiliate of his party in the September 11 general election. In Denmark, Stram Kurs calls for the prohibition of Islam and the expulsion of people who are not of Danish origin.
During a press conference Monday morning in Stockholm, the security authorities expressed their assessment of the situation. Reich Police Chief Anders Thornberg condemned the riots and said: “We suspect that those involved have links to criminal networks,” Swedish broadcaster SVT quoted.
Police suspect criminal gangs of being free riders
There are strong suspicions that criminal gangs, also linked to serious gun violence, are behind the riots and violence against police this weekend. “It’s not about people protesting because they want their views heard,” he said.
“This has nothing to do with protests, but it is an unsustainable attack on our rule of law and our democracy.” The police have long said that the crime situation in the country is extremely serious. “What we have seen in recent days are serious symptoms of a larger problem in Sweden.”
Police chief Jonas Hysing said: “There are a lot of indications that the police were the target”, quoted in the newspaper “Dagens Nyheter”. It is a new phenomenon. He continued: ‘We know there are reports of incitement to violence against the police on social media being staged overseas.
“The evidence is good, including through body cameras”
According to Thornberg, these are very serious criminal cases. Among other things, violent riots, sabotage, arson and attempted murder directed against police officers would be investigated. Up to 200 people were reportedly involved in the simultaneous attacks on the police. “The evidence is good, including the officers’ body cameras,” Hysing said.
There were also riots in Linköping, where there were more than 25 arrests. There too, the police said that they themselves had been assaulted. Ten people were hospitalized with minor injuries, TT news agency reported, citing health authorities.
In Malmö, a bus caught fire on Easter Sunday evening after unidentified people threw a flaming object at the vehicle. Passengers were able to exit the bus in time. Other vehicles and several garbage cans also burned in the southern Swedish town.
The protests in Malmö emerged after the originally planned event in the town of Landskrona was moved to Malmö due to riots. Police said around 100 people, mostly young people, threw rocks and set cars, trash cans and tires on fire in Landskrona.
Malaysia protests Quran burnings
After the transfer to Malmö, the protests also intensified there. Party leader Paludan was pelted with a rock and beaten, he added. Malmo Police Chief Petra Stenkula said he was sad that free speech had become a “passport” for such riots. Fortunately, there were only a few minor injuries during the night. A 16-year-old boy was arrested.
Several police cars were set on fire in the city of Örebro on Good Friday. A dozen police officers were injured. There were also stone-throwing riots in the capital Stockholm.
The burning of the Koran by Paludan also provoked an official reaction from Malaysia. The Muslim-majority island nation’s foreign minister said the action went “beyond moral boundaries and standards of the right to freedom of expression”. It fuels hatred “which must be rejected by all who seek peace and promote peaceful coexistence”, he said. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry warned: “This case has serious implications for relations between Sweden and Muslims. This also applies to Arab states and European countries with Muslim societies. Iraq urged the government in Stockholm to refrain from any action that could divide society or hurt religious feelings. (with dpa, AFP)