Unrest against planned Quran-torching by a controversial Danish-Swedish politician gathered hundreds of angry Muslims and resulted in clashes with the police, provoking condemnation from Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson.
A violent riot has occurred out in the Swedish city of Linköping in connection with a Quran-burning by Swedish-Danish politician and avowed Islam critic Rasmus Paludan, who had previously received permission to hold a public gathering.
Before the slated Quran-burning even started, clashes between enraged local Muslims and the police occurred. In videos from the scene, men are seen standing on the roof of police cars and shouting “Allahu akbar”.
“I didn’t see an undamaged police car”, one witness told the newspaper Aftonbladet.
Återvandring tack! pic.twitter.com/uaWfEHLBJu
— Rebecka Fallenkvist (@fallenkvist) April 14, 2022
Police had to withdraw and regroup after officers were stoned and police cars were smashed and set on fire. A total of three injured police officers were taken to hospital. Subsequently, the riot spread to the city of Norrköping and involved hundreds of participants. Newspaper Norrköpings Tidningar reported that the situation “derailed completely”. According to national broadcaster SVT, several tram stops were closed, as trams were attacked by rioters.
Linköping just nu. Planerad koranbränning ska vara orsaken. Det vill säga: när detta filmades hade inte aktionen skett ännu. pic.twitter.com/DNjS5BwnW3
— Pontus Persson (@PontusPersson5) April 14, 2022
Two people were arrested for violent rioting and another four for disorderly conduct.
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson ultimately took to Twitter to condemn both the riots and Rasmus Paludan.
“No matter what one thinks of the right-wing extremist hate message that Paludan stands for, it is unacceptable to react with such serious violence. It is good that the police have acted decisively to deal with the perpetrators and maintain order. I hope the injured police can recover quickly”, Morgan Johansson tweeted.
“The people behind the violent riots are not representative of those who live in the area. The vast majority of the vulnerable areas just want peace and quiet and to be able to live their lives. As for the right-wing extremist provocateur, it is precisely this type of reactions he wants to see. The purpose is to incite people against each other. I urge all forces of good to remain calm and not allow themselves to be provoked. The government is constantly following developments”, he added.
Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan rose to fame and notoriety in Denmark through his demonstrations against Islam in Muslim-heavy areas featured on the country’s official ghetto list, which are filmed and released as videos. Subsequently, similar events were held in Sweden, often resulting in violent riots. The demonstrations are seen as having a provocative nature as they often feature desecration of the Quran, Islam’s centrepiece, yet are celebrated as an exercise in free speech by Paludan and his party Hard Line, known for its rigid anti-immigrant stance. In light of numerous threats and assassination attempts Paludan has been placed under police protection.
A 2017 Pew Research report documented the Muslim community as 8.1% of Sweden’s total population of 10 million. Sweden’s Muslim minority has soared dramatically in recent decades, particularly following the 2015 migrant crisis.