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Roma refused rentals by Swedish garages: report

One out of three petrol stations in Sweden refused to rent cars to people dressed in traditional Roma clothing in a test carried out by a Swedish broadcaster, a practice one former employee attributed to "deep-rooted xenophobia".

Roma refused rentals by Swedish garages: report

For the test, Sveriges Radio (SR) asked people dressed in traditional Roma clothing to attempt to rent cars from 65 petrol stations across the country, including stations operated by Statoil, OKQ8, and Preem.

On 22 occasions, the Roma-dressed customers were told that the stations had no cars available. But when a reporter from SR came to the same stations 30 minutes later, there were no problems renting a vehicle.

“It’s very insulting and it’s really unbelievable that people can look you in the eye and lie to your face,” Pirjo Lindström, a Finnish Roma who helped carry out the test, told SR

Christian Wallén, a former employee at several Statoil petrol stations, told SR that discriminatory practices are standard procedure at the stations.

“There was a directive to employees to behave in this way,” he told the broadcaster, theorizing that the practice stemmed from a “deep-rooted xenophobia”.

While Wallén admitted he knew of incidents involving Roma customers, the problems didn’t warrant intentional discrimination.

“Of course there were incidents, but that happened with Swedish customers too, so in that way, I don’t think it’s justified,” he said.

Ola Enquist, head of Statoil’s full-service stations in Sweden, reacted strongly to the report that stations under his management systematically discriminated against Roma.

“If it’s true that it’s like this, that’s very serious; that’s against our policy; that’s not how we work,” he told SR.

TT/The Local/dl

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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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