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Protracted riots in Sweden, many policemen and protesters injured

Swedish police say officers injured three people in the eastern city of Norrkoping while protesters protested against a far-right group’s plan to burn copies of the Koran. Specifically, the police “fired several warning shots” and these 3 people seem to have been hit by stray bullets, need medical attention but their injuries are not serious.

The situation in Norrkoping city as of the evening of April 17 (local time) was stable.

The string of violence in Sweden began around April 14 after Rasmus Paludan, a Danish-Swedish dual citizen, announced plans to organize anti-Muslim rallies in many cities. Paludan founded the group Stram Kurs (or Hard Line) in 2017, known for its anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim programs.

Protracted riots in Sweden, many policemen and protesters injured - 1

Violence escalated during protests against former right-wing groups in Sweden. (Photo: Reuters)

Protests against Padulan’s plan broke out in many places and violence escalated between the parties. In some locations, extremists attacked police and set vehicles on fire. Violent clashes also appeared in the capital Stockholm.

More than 10 police officers were injured and four ambulances were also set on fire in the central city of Obero. In the Landskrona area of ​​southern Sweden, some protesters burned cars, tires and crates, while others set up barricades to block traffic.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has criticized the violence.

Sweden’s Southern Police spokesman Kim Hild said on April 16 that it would not withdraw the permits for Stram Kurs’ rallies, due to the very high standards of freedom of expression in Sweden. However, Padulan also had to cancel many campaigns when facing backlash.

Following a series of incidents, Iraq’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Sweden’s representative in Baghdad on April 17, warning that the incident could have “serious consequences” for “relationships between Sweden and Sweden.” Sweden and Muslims in general, both Muslim and Arab countries as well as Muslim communities in Europe”.

Paludan intends to run in the Swedish legislative elections in September but has not yet gained the necessary support. He was convicted of racist insults, was arrested in France and deported in November 2020.

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