Third night of unrest in Sweden over far-right anti-Islam rally

Southern Sweden saw another night of unrest on Saturday over plans by an anti-Islam far-right political party to burn a Qur’an among other things.

Police said up to 100 mostly young people threw stones, set cars, tyres and dustbins on fire, and put up a barrier fence in the town of Landskrona after authorities moved a demonstration scheduled there by Danish party Stram Kurs to the nearby city of Malmö, about 45km (27 miles) to the south.

The situation calmed in Landskrona by late Saturday but remained tense, police said, adding no injuries were reported in the action.

Kim Hild, spokesperson for police in southern Sweden, had said earlier on Saturday that police would not revoke permission for the Landskrona demonstration organised by party Stram Kurs because the free-speech threshold for doing that is very high in Sweden.

The right of the protesters “to demonstrate and speak out weighs enormously, heavily and it takes an incredible amount for this to be ignored,” Hild told Swedish news agency TT.

Since Thursday, clashes have been reported also in Stockholm and in the cities of Linkoping and Norrkoping – all locations where Stram Kurs either planned or had demonstrations.

On Friday evening, violent clashes between demonstrators and counter-protesters erupted in the central city of Orebro ahead of Stram Kurs’ plan to burn a Qur’an there, leaving 12 police officers injured and four police vehicles set on fire.

Video footage and photos from chaotic scenes in Orebro showed burning police cars and protesters throwing stones and other objects at police officers in riot gear.

At Saturday’s demonstration in a central park in Malmö, Stram Kurs’ leader Rasmus Paludan addressed a few dozen people. A small number of counter-protesters threw stones at demonstrators and police were forced to use pepper spray to disperse them.

Paludan himself was reported to have been hit on his leg by a stone, Swedish media said. No serious injuries were reported, according to police.

Paludan, a Danish lawyer who also holds Swedish citizenship, set up Stram Kurs, or Hard Line, in 2017. It runs on an anti-immigration and anti-Islam agenda.

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