Swedish Justice Minister Calls for 'Tough' Measures as Muslim Riots Against Quran-Burning Escalate

© AFP 2023 / KICKI NILSSONPolice vans are on fire during a counter-protest in the park Sveaparken in Orebro, south-centre Sweden
Police vans are on fire during a counter-protest in the park Sveaparken in Orebro, south-centre Sweden - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.04.2022
Clashes between local Muslims and the police first started Thursday when the anti-immigration party Hard Line announced plans to hold rallies and symbolically torch copies of the Quran, Islam's centrepiece, and have since mushroomed to several Swedish cities.
Following violent Muslim riots that shook the Swedish towns of Linköping and Norrköping on Sunday against a Quran-burning demonstration by anti-immigrant politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Hard Line, unrest has escalated in Malmö, Sweden's third-largest, city often billed as the country's most multicultural.
During the night towards Monday, riots broke out in Malmö's immigrant-heavy Rosengård district, where numerous cars were set on fire and the police were forced to use tear gas against the violent crowd, but were met by stone-throwing. Furthermore, the Rosengård school was set on fire.
About a hundred people participated in the unrest, according to the newspaper Aftonbladet.
Earlier on Sunday, three people were hit by ricochets during riots in Norrköping after police officers fired warning shots against what was described as a “powerful uprising”. According to Aftonbladet, a photographer was attacked and had his camera stolen.
Before that, unrest broke out in Linköping, where stones were thrown in clashes with the police. A total of 10 people were reported injured and taken to hospital. A total of 26 people were arrested after Sunday's riots in the two cities, in which some 200 reportedly took part. In both cities, Hard Line leader Rasmus Paludan had announced Quran burnings, but never showed up.
By contrast, Paludan appeared in Malmö's Rosengård on Saturday and torched a copy of Islam's centrepiece, sparking yet another bout of unrest.
Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson called attacks against the police unacceptable and said he felt “strong anger”.
“It's actually not acceptable. You have to get tough”, Johansson said.
He stressed that it was crucial to prosecute those arrested for violence against officials, among others.
“When you attack the police, you are attacking not just the individuals, but the entire society”, he added.
Syrian refugee, who agreed to be photograph on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation against family living in Syria, opens her Quran, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015 - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.04.2022
Nine Police Injured During Protests Over Controversial Quran-Burning by Rasmus Paludan in Sweden
Meanwhile, Sweden's recent Muslim riots received international attention, as the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned a senior diplomat at the Swedish Embassy and warned that the events could have “serious repercussions” on relations between the Scandinavian country and the Muslim world. Furthermore, Iran strongly condemned the Quran burning in public space.
Muslim riots first gripped Sweden on Thursday when Rasmus Paludan's party announced plans to hold anti-Islam rallies and symbolically torch copies of Quran. Since then, unrest including clashes with the police has occurred in Örebro, Landskrona, and Stockholm.
The anti-Islam Hard Line party was founded by Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan in 2017. Paludan himself is known for numerous anti-Islamic videos on YouTube, featuring public burnings of the Quran in areas officially designated in Denmark as ghettos, which he sees as an exercise in freedom of speech. His party demands a flat ban on Islam and the deportation of all non-Western asylum seekers from Denmark. A couple of years ago, Paludan received Swedish citizenship and registered Hard Line as a political party in Sweden as well, announcing plans to participate in the coming election.
A 2017 Pew Research report documented Sweden's Muslim community as 8.1 percent of its total population of about 10 million. Sweden's Muslim minority has risen sharply in recent decades, particularly following the 2015 migrant crisis.
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