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Poles quiz Swede over Auschwitz sign theft

Polish prosecutors said on Monday they had begun questioning Swedish former neo-Nazi leader Anders Högström over his alleged involvement in the theft of the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from the Auschwitz death camp.

Poles quiz Swede over Auschwitz sign theft

Högström has denied plotting to steal the sign — whose German inscription translates as “Work Will Set You Free” — Boguslawa Marcinkowska, spokeswoman for prosecutors in Krakow, southern Poland, said without giving further details.

“The interrogation will continue until late Monday night and probably also on Tuesday,” Marcinkowska added, according to the Polish PAP news agency.

Högström, 34, was arrested in Stockholm on February 11 and has been charged in Poland with “plotting the theft” of the sign that has come to represent the horrors of Nazi Germany.

Polish police recovered the five-metre (16-foot) metal sign on December 20, two days after it was stolen. They arrested and charged five Polish men.

On March 11, a Stockholm court approved Högström’s extradition to Poland to face trial.

In 1994, Högström founded the National Socialist Front, a Swedish neo-Nazi movement he headed for five years before quitting.

He told Swedish media he was to act as an intermediary to pick up the sign and sell it to a buyer, adding however that he informed Polish police about the people behind the plot.

The sign, which had been cut into three parts, was returned by investigators to the Auschwitz museum on January 21, less than a week before commemorations for the 65th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Soviet troops.

The sign has long symbolised the horror of the camp where some 1.1 million people — one million of them Jews — were victims of Nazi German genocide from 1940 to 1945.

Polish judicial authorities indicted Högström in January and issued an arrest warrant for him on February 2.

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ISLAM

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police

The chief executive of a largely Muslim free school in Gothenburg has been placed in custody by the Swedish Migration Agency on the orders of the country's Säpo security police. It follows the arrests of other Imams in recent months.

Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police
He was seized on Wednesday and taken to an immigration detention centre in the city, Sweden's Expressen newspaper reported on Thursday
 
Abdel-Nasser el Nadi, chief executive of Vetenskapsskolan, is the fifth senior member of Sweden's Muslim community to be placed in custody in less than a month. 
 
Three prominent imams are now in custody: Abo Raad, imam of a mosque in Gävle, Hussein Al-Jibury, imam of a mosque in Umeå, and Fekri Hamad, imam of a mosque in Västerås. Raad's son is also being held. 
 
 
Sven-Erik Berg, the school's headmaster, told The Local that he had no idea what was behind the arrest. 
 
“We don't know anything. I don't know anything more than you,” he said. “We are doing nothing, but the school is naturally maintaining a dialogue with the Swedish School Inspectorate and their lawyers.” 
 
He said it was inaccurate to describe the school as a 'Muslim school' as it has no official confessional status. 
 
“The chief executive is a central person among Swedish Muslims, so naturally the group of people we recruit from are often those who have a relation to Islam or Sweden's Islamic associations,” he said. “But the school does not go around telling children what they should or shouldn't believe.”
 
On its website the school declares: “At our school everyone is treated equally irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic background, appearance, opinions, or abilities”. 
 
“We are one of the best schools in Gothenburg. You just have to look at the statistics,” Berg added.  
 
A spokesman for Säpo told Expressen that he could not comment on any of the five cases or on whether they were in some way linked. 
 
But according to the Swedish news site Doku, which investigates Islamic extremists, Säpo is probing whether el Nadi has any links to a network of Islamic militants.
 
In an article published last October, the site alleged that El Nadi's activism was part of the reason that so many young men from Gothenburg had travelled to fight for the terror group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. 
 
El-Nadi was previously the school's headmaster, and the school was in 2018 criticised by the Swedish School Inspectorate for not sufficiently promoting equality between girls and boys.
 
When he was interviewed by Dagens Nyheter a year ago, he asserted his loyalty to Sweden. 
 
“I have five children, all of whom were born in Sweden, a big family, and I want to protect this society in the same way that I have protected my children,” he said.  
 
El-Nadi was born in Egypt but has lived in Sweden since 1992. He has twice applied to become a Swedish citizen, in 2007 and 2011, and twice been rejected. 
   
 
 
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