Unrest broke out in southern Sweden despite police moving a gathering of an anti-Islamic far-right group, which among other things planned to burn a Quran, to a new location as a precaution
HELSINKI — Unrest broke out in southern Sweden on Saturday evening despite police moving a gathering of a far-right anti-Islam group, which among other things planned to burn a Koran, to a new location in preventive title.
Swedish police say up to 100 people, mostly young people, threw rocks, set cars, tires and garbage cans on fire and erected a barrier that obstructed traffic. The situation calmed down in Landskrona on Saturday evening but remains tense, police said, adding that no injuries were reported in the action.
Violent clashes between protesters and counter-protesters erupted in the central town of Orebro on Friday night ahead of Stram Kurs’ plan to burn a Quran there, leaving 12 police officers injured and four police vehicles set on fire.
Video footage and photos of chaotic scenes in Orebro showed burning police cars and protesters throwing rocks and other objects at officers in riot gear.
Kim Hild, spokesman for the police in southern Sweden, said earlier on Saturday that police would not revoke permission for the Landskrona protest because the threshold to do so is very high in Sweden, which values freedom of expression.
The right of protesters “to protest and speak out weighs enormously, heavily and it takes a lot to ignore,” Hild told Swedish news agency TT.
The demonstration took place on Saturday evening in a central Malmö park where Stram Kurs leader Rasmus Paludan addressed a few dozen people. A small number of counter-protesters threw rocks at protesters and police were forced to use pepper spray to disperse them.
Paludan himself was reportedly hit by a stone in the leg, Swedish media said. No serious injuries were reported, police said.
Since Thursday, clashes have also been reported in Stockholm and the cities of Linkoping and Norrkoping – all places where Stram Kurs have planned or staged protests.
Paludan, a Danish lawyer who also holds Swedish citizenship, established Stram Kurs, or “Hard Line” in 2017. The party’s website, which is part of an anti-immigration and anti-Islam agenda, says “Stram Kurs is the most patriotic political party in Denmark.