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Riots in Sweden after Koran burning by far-right activists

About 300 people were on the streets of Malmo with violence escalating as the evening wore on.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

At least 10 people were arrested in southern Sweden and several police officers were injured in violence which broke out after an anti-Muslim Danish politician was blocked from attending a Koran-burning rally, police said on Saturday.

Protesters threw stones at police and burned tyres on the streets of Malmo late on Friday, with violence escalating as the evening wore on, according to the police and local media.

The demonstration of about 300 people was connected to an incident earlier in the day in which protesters burned a copy of the Islamic holy book, police spokesperson Rickard Lundqvist told Swedish tabloid Expressen.

Arrests and release

Between 10 and 20 protesters were arrested late on Friday and “have all been released,” said police spokesperson Patric Fors.

The violence subsided by Saturday morning.

“Those who act like this have nothing to do with Islam,” Samir Muric, an imam, said on Facebook.

“It's not right,” Malmo resident Shahed told the SVT public broadcaster. “But it wouldn't have happened if they hadn't burnt the Koran,” he added.

Rasmus Paludan, who leads the far-right Danish anti-immigration party Hard Line, was due to travel to Malmo to speak at Friday’s event, which was being held on the same day as weekly prayers for the Muslim sabbath. But authorities pre-empted Mr. Paludan’s arrival by announcing he had been banned from entering Sweden for two years. He was later arrested near Malmo.

Demos in Sweden, Norway

“We suspect that he was going to break the law in Sweden,” said Calle Persson, spokesperson for the police in Malmo. “There was also a risk that his behaviour... would pose a threat to society.”

But his supporters went ahead with the rally, during which six people were arrested for inciting racial hatred.

“It hurts,” Salim Mohammed Ali, a Muslim resident of Malmo for over 20 years, told SVT on Saturday.

“People get angry and I understand that, but there are other ways of doing things,” he added.

Lawyer Paludan later put up a scathing message on Facebook. He is also active on YouTube.

“Sent back and banned from Sweden for two years. However, rapists and murderers are always welcome!” he wrote.

Across the border in Norway meanwhile, a group held an anti-Muslim demonstration Saturday during which one woman tore pages from the Koran and spat on it.

Paludan last year attracted media attention for burning a Koran wrapped in bacon — a meat that is anathema for Muslims.

Malmo is the third largest city in Sweden and around 40% of its 320,000 inhabitants have foreign roots.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 5:28:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/riot-in-southern-sweden-after-anti-muslim-danish-leader-banned-from-rally/article32472442.ece

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