[QODLink]
Europe

Thousands rally against racism in Sweden

Huge crowds gather in Stockholm suburb, a week after similar gathering was attacked by neo-Nazis.

Last updated: 23 Dec 2013 06:00
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
On December 15, a far-right group attacked anti-Nazi demonstrators in Karrtorp [EPA]

Thousands of Swedes demonstrating against racism and nazism have gathered in a Stockholm suburb, a week after a smaller rally in the same district was attacked by neo-Nazis.

Crowds marched on Sunday towards a sports field in Karrtorp, in the south of the capital, where music performances and speeches were held. Organisers of the event said 16,000 people attended the rally.

The lesson learned is that the fight for the equal value of all humans must carry on.

Erik Ullenhag, Integration Minister

About 100 uniformed police were deployed at the event, police spokesman Kjell Lindgren told reporters, and helicopters were buzzing over the area.

"I've been to many demonstrations in my life and this is one of the biggest," Jytte Guteland, a candidate to the European Parliament for the Social Democrats, told Al Jazeera.

"It shows how many we are fighting for the equal value of all humans, and that we are many in comparison to the extremists," Guteland said.

"I think many people are worried about the rise of the far-right in Europe and want to show that in Sweden, we are taking another route."

Last week, about 40 supporters of the neo-Nazi Swedish Resistance Movement, armed with glass bottles and firecrackers, set upon a few hundred peaceful protesters who chanted slogans like "No racists on our streets".

The initial demonstration in Karrtorp was triggered by swastikas and racist slogans scrawled on walls in the suburb.

Revulsion against nazism, racism

A popular campaign against racism has been gaining momentum in Sweden as polls, ahead of next year's general elections, suggest gains for the far-right Sweden Democrats party, which first entered parliament in 2010.

In a poll presented by Swedish Statistics earlier this month, 9.3 percent of respondents supported the Sweden Democrats, to be compared with the 5.7 percent the party garnered in the 2010 elections.

Police were heavily criticised after last week's incident for misjudging the threat from the far-right and being unable to prevent the attack.

Some of the demonstrators sought shelter in a local supermarket while others, alongside a handful of police officers, tried to push back the attackers.

Several people, including policemen, were injured in the clashes and 28 people were detained, according to police.

The events in Karrtorp have since dominated Swedish media, and a series of demonstrations against racism and nazism have been held in various cities.

Many politicians from both the ruling centre-right coalition and the centre-left opposition attended Sunday's rally.

"I want to contribute to a broad revulsion against nazism and racism," Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag told public broadcaster SVT.

"Last week's attack was sad. The lesson learned is that the fight for the equal value of all humans must carry on, or we won't manage the fight against xenophobia."

A spokeswoman for the organising Linje 17 network, named after the metro line in the southern suburbs, said she did not exclude more manifestations but that continuous work locally is the most important method for changing attitudes.

"That can be simple things like making sure there's no Nazi propaganda, to have conversations with neighbours, friends, schools and the city district, about what racism is and how we can turn the worrying trend, especially in Europe, of increasing facism," the spokewoman, who gave her name only as Therese in fear of reprisals from far-right groups, told Al Jazeera.

572

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Despite 14-year struggle for a new mosque in the second-largest city, new roadblocks are erected at every turn.
Authorities and demonstrators have shown no inclination to yield despite growing economic damage and protest pressure.
Lebanese-born Rula Ghani may take cues from the modernising Queen Soraya, but she'll have to proceed with caution.
One of the world's last hunter-gatherer tribes has been forced from the forest it called home by a major dam project.
Chinese authorities scramble to cut off information on Hong Kong protests from reaching the mainland.