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Rosengård riots abate after two violent nights

Rosengård riots abate after two violent nights

Published: 20 Dec 2008 07:29 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Dec 2008 07:29 GMT+01:00

The streets of Malmö’s Rosengård district were relatively calm on Friday evening, as the hundreds of youth who rioted earlier in the week refrained from engaging in renewed clashes with police.

After cars and garbage bins were set ablaze and stones were thrown against police in violent clashes on Wednesday and Thursday in the heavily-immigrant populated neighbourhood of Rosengård, youths assembled relatively quietly on Friday.

They were watched by a large police deployment that had switched to a new tactic of engaging them in dialogue in a bid to prevent a third night of riots.

The troubles began as a quiet protest linked to the recent closure of an Islamic cultural centre in Rosengård that housed a mosque, but have spread to become a general expression of discontent among disadvantaged youths.

The police "think they can appease us by joking with us, but they hassle us all the time, they arrest us for nothing and then they're surprised that we fight back," Ahmed Baccar, a 20-year-old unemployed Palestinian with a shaved head, told AFP.

"And they hit 11- and 12-year-old kids, set their dogs on us like they did yesterday, and then you want us to like them," said his friend Rached El Ali, an 18-year-old Palestinian.

Police reinforcements had been called in from Stockholm and Gothenburg.

While the evening was primarily calm, demonstrators did set off firecrackers and five cars and several large garbage bins were set on fire, police said.

Five people were arrested.

A firebomb was also thrown at a school window in Rosengård, sparking a blaze that police rapidly brought under control.

The quiet protests began in November when the owner of the building that housed the Islamic centre in the basement wanted to use the space for other purposes. The centre moved out peacefully and handed over the keys.

But a group of youths squatted the basement on November 24, and police intervened early this week to remove the youths and empty the offices.

Police guarded the location until Wednesday, and once they left youths tried to occupy the building again, triggering the riots that have so far led to just a couple of arrests.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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