Violence in Sweden: 40 injured after a “tour” to burn the Koran – Le Figaro

Serious scenes of violence have dotted the country for several days in the wake of an anti-Islam tour by a far-right group. Swedish police on Monday brought to 40 injured, including 26 police officers, the toll of serious violence that occurred in several cities in the country in the wake of a “tour” of a far-right group wanting to burn the Koran. The management of this anti-Islam tour has also aroused the condemnation of several Muslim countries: after Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Turkish diplomacy deplored on Monday “the hesitation to prevent provocative and Islamophobic acts (…) under the guise of freedom of expression”, while a demonstration took place in front of the Swedish embassy in Iran. Read alsoSweden: 26 arrests after violence in response to the desire of a far-right group to burn the Koran To cries of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), first counter-demonstrations against coming to Sweden of the leader of the Danish anti-Islam party “Hard Line”, Rasmus Paludan, had degenerated Thursday into violence against the police, in districts with strong Muslim communities of the Swedish cities of Norrköping and Linköping. The rioting scenes then spread over the weekend to several other cities, where Mr Paludan, who has dual Danish and Swedish nationality, set fire to or planned to set fire to copies of the holy book of Islam. “We tried to kill police officers” The Swedish police, whose twenty vehicles were burned or damaged, consider that they were the main target of what they described as “violent riots”. “A lot of things suggest that it was the police who were the main target, rather than the organizers,” Jonas Hysing, commander of special operations, told a press conference. “We tried to kill police officers,” said the country’s police chief, Anders Thornberg, at his side. “Criminal individuals took advantage of the situation to show violence” and this “unrelated to the demonstrations”, he also affirmed. The Swedish police also suspect the violence to have been supported from abroad, but no country has been designated. Monday was marked by a return to calm, with the departure from Sweden of Mr. Paludan, who had returned to Denmark. More than forty people, including several minors, were arrested in these clashes which also occurred in Malmö, Örebro and Rinkeby, a suburb of the capital Stockholm. The violence culminated on Sunday when police had to fire warning shots in Norrköping, wounding three people with gunshots they said were caused by ricochets. Apart from the police, 14 people were injured. “About 200 attendees were violent on the spot and the police had to intervene with weapons in self-defense,” according to Mr. Hysing. Clashes with the police, punctuated by stone throwing and burning cars, led to 26 arrests in Norrköping and Linköping on Sunday. In Malmö, where Mr. Paludan burned a Koran on Saturday, the night from Sunday to Monday was agitated, like the day before, with in particular a fire starting in a school. A provocation sometimes “tolerated” From Denmark to Belgium via France, Rasmus Paludan has been accustomed in recent years to projects to set fire to copies of the Koran, generally in immigrant neighborhoods with a large Muslim population. The events are often banned by the police, but sometimes tolerated in the name of freedom of demonstration despite the strong tensions caused by the rallies, like Thursday in Sweden. These authorizations arouse incomprehension in the Arab-Muslim world. “The vile attacks in Sweden against our holy book, the Koran, show that the lessons of the past have not been learned,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Twitter, deploring that “hate crimes are openly tolerated under covered by freedom of expression”. Iraqi diplomacy had summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires on Sunday, denouncing an act “provocative for the feelings of Muslims and offensive for what is sacred to them”. Saudi Arabia had also “condemned the actions of certain extremists in Sweden and their provocations against Muslims”, according to its official agency.