Riots erupt in Sweden before far-right rally
Four police cars were set on fire and at least four officers injured as protesters threw stones and attacked police cordons.
Four Swedish police officers and a member of the public were injured by counter-protesters demonstrating against a far-right group’s intention to burn a Quran in Orebro city in central Sweden on Friday.
Police said that four police cars were set on fire and at least four officers and one private individual were injured as protesters threw stones and large groups attacked police cordons and tore down riot fences.
It was the second day running that there had been clashes on the fringes of a rally by the anti-immigration and anti-Islamic far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) movement led by Danish-Swedish Rasmus Paludan.
The rally, which had received permission, was disbanded by police to calm the situation, and later Friday evening most counter-demonstrators had left the area, police said.
On Thursday, three police officers were taken to hospital after a riot broke out in the city of Linkoping on Sweden’s east coast, where a demonstration that included a Quran burning was planned. Two people were arrested at that demonstration.
“We live in a democratic society and one of the most important tasks of the police is to ensure that people can use their constitutionally protected rights to demonstrate and express their opinions,” Sweden’s National Police Chief Anders Thornberg said on Friday morning, reacting to Thursday’s events.
“The police do not get to choose who has this right, but must always intervene in case of violation,” he added in a statement.
Far-right leader Paludan has regularly been at the centre of incidents in recent years. In November 2020, he was arrested in France and deported. Five other activists were arrested in Belgium shortly afterwards, accused of intending to “spread hatred” by burning a Quran in Brussels.