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Malmö police to learn ‘polite’ Arabic

Police who patrol Malmö's Rosengård district are being offered a special Arabic language class to help them better understand and communicate with local residents in the predominantly immigrant area.

So far 45 officers have signed up for voluntary twelve-week class, which will provide training on a number of common greetings and pleasantries in Arabic, the local Skånska Dagbladet newspaper reports.

“It’s about dealing with immigrants in a more dignified and little more civil manner,” local police chief Bengt Hersler told the newspaper.

According to Hersler, the course was arranged at the request of officers who have pushed the department to provide them with the tools to better communicate with Rosengård’s residents, many of whom are immigrants and have Swedish as a second language.

In addition to teachings in basic Arabic, the tailor-made course will also offer lessons on Muslim culture and traditions to help officers better understand some of the cultural differences that can lead to misunderstandings in dealings with local residents.

“We’re looking to broaden our knowledge, Said Hersler.

“Ever time we speak, we express ourselves from within our own culture. Even if you speak the same language, there’s no guarantee that people understand each other.”

The tailor-made course, arranged by studieförbundet Vuxenskolan, will be held during participants’ free time and will focus on phrases that officers would likely be able to use in their everyday work.

“They obviously aren’t going to learn the whole language,” Lena Gustafsson from Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan told the newspaper.

While no follow up course is currently planned, Hersler told the newspaper that, if the Arabic language and culture class proves successful, a follow-on may be arranged.

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PROTESTS

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.

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