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Scores protest neo-Nazi talks in Gotland

Published: 28 Jun 2014 22:35 GMT+02:00

The church bells rang loud across Visby on Saturday, in the lead-up to a talk from the Party of the Swedes (Svenskarnas parti - SvP).
 
The bells were ringing, much like they did in Jönköping in May, in an attempt to drown out the neo-Nazis who had been given permission to unite in public. One priest said it was a demonstration for diversity.
 
But on a rainy day on the island of Gotland, there were more unusual umbrellas in the crowd of counter demonstrators than there were supporters of the party.
 
A 100-person strong crowd was on hand in the Almedalen park, chanting "No fascists on our streets" and "crush Nazism", while sounding horns, jangling keys, and shouting. 
 
The voice of party leader Stefan Jacobsson was drowned out by the crowd, who stood with their backs faced towards the politician as he addressed his dozen or so supporters.
 
Dozens of police were on the scene, standing between the demonstrators and the supporters of SvP, and dragged at least one person away from the crowd.
 
"It was a calm night, overall," Viktor Adolphson of the Stockholm police told The Local as the crowds dispersed.
 
"We weren't expecting any violence, but we were prepared for anything," he said, confirming that there was an extra police presence in Gotland this year.
 
"Now we can move on for this and get ready for the real event which begins tomorrow morning."
 
Sunday marks the first official day of Almedalen, which will see each party represented in the Swedish parliament (Riksdag) given one day to get policies and views across to the crowds. 
 
 
While SvP had permission to talk until 9pm on Saturday, they were off the stage half an hour earlier. 
 
One Swede on the scene, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the evening marked a first in several ways. 
 
"I've not heard the bells ring like this for the thirty years I've lived here. It's symbolic. It's also symbolic to let this party even have the chance to speak," he told The Local.
 
"This is the Sweden we're living in today. Unbelievable, but that's how it is."
 
Oliver Gee

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The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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