Violence in Sweden after Koran burning tour: 40 injured

Swedish police on Monday injured 40, including 26 police officers, in severe violence that took place in several cities across the country following a “tour” by a far-right group planning to burn the Koran.

• Also read: New violence in Sweden after a right-wing extremist demonstration

The management of this anti-Islam tour has also provoked the condemnation of several Muslim countries: after Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Turkish diplomacy on Monday lamented “the hesitation to prevent provocative and Islamophobic acts (…) under the guise of freedom of expression “, while a demonstration was taking place in front of the Swedish embassy in Iran.

With shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), the first counter-demonstrations against the arrival of the leader of the Danish anti-Islam party “Hard Line”, Rasmus Paludan, in Sweden on Thursday degenerated into violence against the police. in neighborhoods with a strong Muslim community in the Swedish cities of Norrköping and Linköping.

Violence in Sweden after Koran burning tour: 40 injured

The riot scenes then spread to several other cities over the weekend, where Mr Paludan, who has Danish and Swedish citizenship, set fire to or intended to set fire to copies of the Holy Book of Islam.

Swedish police, who saw about twenty vehicles burned or damaged, believe they were the main target in what they described as a “violent riot”.

“There are many indications that the main target was the police and not the organizers,” Jonas Hysing, commander of special operations, said at a news conference.

“We tried to kill police officers,” said the country’s police chief, Anders Thornberg, at his side.

Violence in Sweden after Koran burning tour: 40 injured

“Criminals took advantage of the situation to show violence,” and this “regardless of the demonstrations,” he also asserted.

Swedish police also suspect the violence was aided from abroad, but no country has been named.

Monday was marked by a return to calm, with the departure of Mr Paludan from Sweden, who had returned to Denmark.

More than forty people, including several minors, were arrested in these clashes, which also took place in Malmö, Örebro and Rinkeby, a suburb of the capital Stockholm.

The violence culminated on Sunday when police in Norrköping had to fire warning shots, injuring three people with what they believed were ricochet fires.

In addition to the police, 14 people were injured.

Violence in Sweden after Koran burning tour: 40 injured

“About 200 participants were violent at the scene and the police had to intervene with weapons in self-defense,” said Mr. Hysing.

Clashes with police, punctuated by stone throwing and burning cars, led to 26 arrests in Norrköping and Linköping on Sunday.

In Malmo, where Mr Paludan burned a Koran on Saturday, the night from Sunday to Monday was as turbulent as the day before, in particular a fire went out in a school.

From Denmark to France to Belgium, Rasmus Paludan has been accustomed to Koran burning projects in recent years, mostly in immigrant neighborhoods with large Muslim populations.

The events are often banned by the police, but sometimes tolerated in the name of freedom of demonstration, as in Sweden on Thursday, despite the high tensions caused by the rallies.

These permits are met with incomprehension in the Arab-Muslim world.

“The heinous attacks in Sweden on our holy book, the Koran, show that the lessons of the past have not been learned,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter, lamenting that “hate crimes are openly tolerated under the protection of freedom of expression.” .

Iraqi diplomacy summoned the Swedish chargé d’affaires on Sunday and denounced an act that “provokes the feelings of Muslims and insults what is sacred to them.”

According to its official agency, Saudi Arabia had also “condemned the actions of certain extremists in Sweden and their provocations against Muslims”.

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