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INTEGRATION

Sweden looks to combat Islamophobia

Sweden’s integration minister Erik Ullenhag is meeting on Thursday with representatives from the Swedish Muslim community to develop a strategy for combating Islamophobia in the wake of the Stockholm suicide bombing.

Sweden looks to combat Islamophobia

The suicide bombing in Stockholm risks resulting in suspicions being cast against hundreds of thousands of Swedish Muslims, Ullenhag writes in a debate article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

He argues that it is unacceptable to blame an entire group for one person’s actions.

“We who believe in the Swedish values of openness and tolerance have a responsibility to fight the Islamophobia and prejudice which can follow in the wake of terror,” writes Ullenhag.

“We should never allow one individual’s act to result in an entire religion being seen as suspect or having a group saddled with collective guilt.”

He points out that “more than 99.9 percent” of Sweden’s estimated 400,000 Muslims are not among the list of roughly 200 violent Islamic extremists in the country identified by Swedish security service Säpo.

Ullenhag said he shared concerns expressed to him by Muslim students in the days following the December 11th suicide bombing in Stockholm that the blasts would affect perceptions of them and their families.

He also cites a recent study from Sweden’s Forum for Living History (Forum för levande historia) which found that tolerance among Swedish youth for Muslim, Jews, and Roma had decreased in recent years.

In an effort to counteract potential discrimination against Swedish Muslims that could result from the suicide bombing, Ullenhag is meeting on Thursday with a number of prominent leaders from Sweden’s Muslim community.

“The purpose of the meeting is to discuss how the government can deepen its work to combat discrimination and an increasing Islamophobia,” writes Ullenhag.

“I want to listen to the experiences of Swedish Muslims and talk about what we can do to reduce polarisation and stop barriers between groups and people from taking root.”

Ullenhag further emphasised that Sweden should never abandon its ideals of openness and tolerance in the fight against terrorism.

“If a suicide bomber succeeds in creating large divisions and increased intolerance – then terror has won,” he writes.

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CRIME

Police in Sweden block Danish extremist’s new demo

Police in western Sweden have rejected an appeal by the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan against a decision to deny him permission for a Koran-burning protest in Borås.

Police in Sweden block Danish extremist's new demo

“Rasmus Paludan has a rhetoric which is intended to create disorder and chaos,” Emelie Kullmyr, the police officer in charge of protecting this year’s General Election in Western Sweden, said in a press release.

“We have seen how the public has been exposed to serious danger and police officers have been injured. The task of the police is to ensure security and we will do that, but all positive forces need to be helped to maintain peace and order.” 

In the press release, the police emphasised the importance of the public’s right to demonstrate and express their opinions freely, but said that the right to hold public demonstrations could still be curtailed in “exceptional cases”. 

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Paludan, who aimed to hold the demonstration on April 29th, can now appeal the police’s decision at the local civil court in Borås. 

He has now applied to hold on May 1st rallies in Uppsala and Stockholm for his far-right party Stram Kurs, or “Hard Line”. 

Koran-burning demonstrations held over the Easter holidays in the cities of Norrköping, Linköping, Malmö, Örebro, and in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby, led to the worst riots Sweden has seen in decades, with 100 police officers injured.

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