Sweden to invest millions in fighting extremism

Sweden is investing 62 million kronor ($9.6 million) in a national action plan to combat extremism, according to a government announcement.

“I welcome that Sweden is now getting a national plan against violent extremism,” Birgitta Ohlsson, minister for European Union affairs, said in a statement.

“The focal point will be on preventative measures,” she said.

Ohlsson is in charge of government’s action plan.

The purpose of the investment is to strengthen democracy, and “make our society resistant to violent extremism”, according to Ohlsson.

She pointed out that several similar measures already have been put into action by municipalities and local authorities.

“But at the same time, it’s clear that further measures and a national overview are necessary,” she said.

The government’s announcement was closely followed by a statement from prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, commenting on the ten years since the 9/11 terror attacks.

Reinfeldt still remembers where he was when he heard of the attacks.

“I was on the train, on the way home to Täby, when I got a call saying that something had happened in New York. And as if on a given signal, several other mobile phones began ringing simultaneously in the carriage.”

Reinfeldt lamented the suffering and loss of human life on that day, and in following repercussions.

“Today, my thoughts go out to the victims and the relatives of all those who’ve been stricken throughout the years,” he said.

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Swedish extremism hotline prepares to open

A Swedish helpline for families worried that a loved one may be on the path to radicalization will open on November 16th, said the Red Cross.

Swedish extremism hotline prepares to open
An extremism helpline is being set up in Sweden. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The Swedish Red Cross confirmed on Wednesday that it would set up a national hotline for extremism, which The Local wrote about earlier this year.

The announcement comes barely a week after two people were killed in a racially-motivated attack on a school in Trollhättan that shocked the nation.

“We are launching this hotline at the request of the National Coordinator Against Extremism. We want to help the families, the friends of people tempted by radical extremism,” Swedish Red Cross president Anna Carlstedt told the AFP news agency.

The aim of the hotline is not to identify potential extremists, whether they are sympathizers of radical Islam, the extreme left or the hard-right, but to offer support to “all those who suspect a loved one is being radicalized,” Carlstedt added.

Several other countries, including France and Britain, have set up similar free phone numbers to address concerns about radicalization.

Sweden is still reeling from the attack in the western town of Trollhättan last Thursday, in which a teaching assistant and a pupil were killed by a sword-wielding attacker with apparent far-right, anti-immigrant sympathies.

And Swedish security police Säpo reported earlier this month that 125 Swedes are currently believed to be fighting for terror groups such as the Islamic State (also known as Isis or IS) in Syria and Iraq.

READ ALSO: Pregnant Swedish teen freed from Isis captivity