Swedish king expresses “dismay” over London attacks

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has expressed grief and outrage over the terrorist attacks which brought London to a standstill on Thursday and killed at least 38 people.

“It is with great dismay and sadness that we today receive word of the terror attacks in London. I send my condolences and my deepest sympathies to Great Britain. My whole family’s thoughts go to all those who have been affected,” the monarch said in a statement.

Carl Gustaf is one of many Swedish public figures who has commented on the atrocities in the British capital. Sweden’s political leaders widely condemned the blasts and noted that Sweden could not consider itself immune from such attacks in future.

Lars Leijonborg, the leader of the Liberal party, said that this was a reminder of the constant threat against western democracies from terror groups.

“The Swedish attitude has for a long time been naive,” he said.

“Those in power have thought that we will always be spared, despite the fact that Sweden has been affected by terror deaths and political murder to a greater extent than many other countries. Sweden urge on the anti-terrorism debate within the EU.”

The Center Party’s Maud Olofsson noted that the innocent are always hit hardest by such attacks.

“Our sympathy is with the British people and all of those affected and those families which have lost relatives,” she said.

“The attacks are all the more shameful considering that the leaders of the G8 countries are meeting now to find a solution to fighting poverty and environmental problems around the world.”

Fredrik Reinfeldt, the leader of the main opposition party, the Moderates, said that with more than 100,000 Swedes liiving or holidaying in London, his first thought when he heard of the attacks was that it felt as though it could have been Sweden.

The Left Party’s Lars Ohly commented that terrorism is the “most cowardly thing there is since it attacks completely innocent people”. He said that there is a risk that in the fight against terrorism society will become more restrictive.

“Less openness and less democracy is precisely what the terrorists want to bring about,” he added.

On Friday the Swedish Muslim cleric council also condemned the blasts.

“This barbaric action can not be accepted by normal people, regardless of what culture or religion one belongs to,” head of the council Hassan Moussa told the TT news agency.

While Londoners appeared to be defying the terrorists on Friday morning by returning to work on the underground system and buses, the Swedish foreign ministry was still advising Swedes to avoid visiting the city “for the time being”.

Friday’s Swedish tabloids reported on numerous Swedes whose ‘dream’ trips to London had been ruined and others, resident in the city, who had narrowly escaped the bombs, but the Swedish embassy in London said it had no reports of Swedes injured in the attacks.

Aftonbladet expressed concern that the Stockholm underground, with very few security cameras, is vulnerable to such attacks. SL, the company which runs Stockholm’s public transport, said it was working with the police to increase vigilance on the network.

Meanwhile, Svenska Dagbladet reported that the Swedish government is planning to put a new anti-terrorism law before parliament in the autumn. It is expected to include the controversial suggestion that the armed forces will take on a wider role in the efforts to prevent terrorist attacks on Swedish soil.

The Local/AFP