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Sweden advances plan to combat extremism

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Sweden advances plan to combat extremism
08:02 CEST+02:00
In the wake of the terror attacks in Norway last month, the Swedish government is planning to present its own action plan to combat violent extremism.

The primary goal of the plan is the stop people from getting into a situation in which they resort to violence in the name of their political or religious beliefs.

The government is putting together its action plan with help from security service Säpo, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå), the National Defence College (Försvarshögskolan), the National Board of Youth Affairs (Ungdomsstyrelsen), and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR).

Justice minister Beatrice Ask will have responsibility for updating Sweden's national strategy for comnbatting terrorist threats, while democracy minister Birgitta Ohlsson will lead work on the anti-extremism action plan.

“The whole of Sweden is needed the common effort to protect our democracy,” writes prime minister Fredrick Reinfeldt and the two other ministers in an opinion article published Friday in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper outlining progress on the action plan.

Efforts to put together an action plan against extremism began six months ago in the wake of December's suicide bombing in Stockholm.

According to the ministers, the three extremist environments on which the plan's efforts will be concentrated are the white power movement, the autonomous left, and violent Islamism.

According to Säpo and Brå, the movements haven't expanded in recent years. However, there is believed to be a risk that ever-smaller factions with especially violent individuals could carry out serious acts, write the three.

“We don't know how tomorrow's extremism will look. An extremist movement which expands and gets more followers can result in the nourishment of these extreme political views,” write the ministers.

“Therefore it's important that fundamentalism and extremism in all its forms are met with strength and that the violent message is deconstructed.”

They also state that nationalist and racist parties have advanced their views and that, according to the Forum of Living History (Forum för levande historia), around 20 percent of high school students in Sweden have clearly intolerant attitudes toward Jews, Roma, Muslims, gays, and immigrants.

According to the ministers, individuals who are attracted to such anti-democratic messages need to be the focus of preventative measures that accompany the new action plan.

"We must accept and affirm diversity but with a core of common democratic values" write Ohlsson, Ask, and Reinfeldt.

"Values which are based on universal human rights."

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