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'Nazis not welcome here': Small-town mayor

Published: 31 Mar 2014 17:14 GMT+02:00

The small neo-Nazi Party of the Swedes (Svenskarnas party - SVP) was last week granted a permit to march through the small Swedish town of Jönköping on May 1st, much to the annoyance of the town's elected politicians. On Monday, the politicians announced they would try to have the permit revoked.

"It's their democratic right to demonstrate, just as it is our democratic right to voice our objection to their demonstration," local Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) politician Anna Mårtensson told The Local on Monday.

The town's mayor, Mats Green, went as far as telling the TT news agency that the demonstrators were not welcome in the central Sweden town.

The politicians are now set to lodge an appeal with the courts.

"Primarily, this is about the safety and security of people who live in this municipality," Mårtensson said.

Last year, extreme-left activists attacked the demo, Sveriges Television reported. In the ensuing tumult, five people were injured. The police, who were reinforced by officers from other districts, detained 29 people and arrested four of them.

Counter-demonstrators torched several cars in the melée, which saw an estimated 200 people either marching or protesting against the march. 

"The police were nevertheless quite pleased with the outcome, yet a lot of people, including myself, chose not to visit town that day," Mårtensson said. "And a colleague chose not to bring his kids with him when he went in to town."

"May 1st is a day off, it's supposed to be pleasant," she said.

While she said she did not pin any high hopes on a successful appeal, Mårtensson explained that she hoped the bid would get people talking about how demonstration permits are issued in Sweden.

"They're given out very lackadaisically, there's no review worth its name. I think you should consider the demonstrators' right to express themselves, a safety analysis, and a look at the costs to society," she said. "A thorough review."

Jönköping police spokesman Mats Rosenqvist told the TT news agency that he was sorry his office had not consulted local politicians before news of the permit was made public.

"But then I could add that it wouldn't have affected the decision. We need to be clear on that," he said.

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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