Several injured in clashes at anti-immigration rally in Sweden

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Swedish police said officers injured three people in the eastern city of Norrköping on Sunday when demonstrators protested plans by a far-right group to burn copies of the Koran. “The police fired several warning shots. Three people were apparently hit by ricochets and are currently being treated in hospital,” police said in a statement.

The three injured were arrested, police said, adding that their condition was not known. Sunday’s clashes in Norrköping were the second there in four days.

The first time, the demonstrators were protesting against a rally by the anti-immigration and anti-Islam group Hard Line, led by Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan, 40.

They gathered again on Sunday to protest another gathering, which Paludan eventually abandoned. Eight people were arrested among the approximately 150 attendees as protesters threw rocks at officers and cars were set on fire, police said.

According to health services quoted by local news agency TT, 10 people were hospitalized after the clashes with minor injuries, and similar unrest took place in the neighboring town of Linköping, where the far-right Hardline party also called off a demonstration. Eighteen people were arrested in Linköping, police said, bringing the total number arrested to 26 during the weekend’s clashes.

Swedish “Tour”

Paludan, who wants to stand as a candidate in Sweden’s parliamentary elections in September but has not yet collected the number of signatures needed to secure his candidacy, is currently on a ‘tour’ of Sweden. He visits neighborhoods with large Muslim populations where he intends to burn copies of the Koran. The lawyer and YouTuber has already been convicted of racial abuse.

In 2019, he burned a Quran wrapped in bacon and was banned from Facebook for a month after a post linked immigration and crime. On Saturday, one of his rallies was moved from a Landskrona neighborhood to a remote car park south of Malmo, the large neighboring city, but a car tried to break through the protective barriers. The driver was arrested and Paludan then burned a Koran.

Hard Line’s tour has sparked several clashes between police and counter-protesters across the Scandinavian country in recent days. Around 12 police officers were injured in the clashes on Thursday and Friday.

After the series of incidents, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Swedish chargé d’affaires in Baghdad on Sunday. It warned that the affair could have “serious implications” for “relationships between Sweden and Muslims in general, both Muslim and Arab countries and Muslim communities in Europe”.

In November 2020, Paludan was arrested in France and deported. Shortly afterwards, five other activists were arrested in Belgium, accused of trying to “spread hatred” by burning a Koran in Brussels.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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