Left-right split over probe of Stockholm riots

Sweden's opposition parties on the left are keen to see a formal inquiry into the causes of recent unrest in Stockholm, while the centre-right governing Alliance parties remain sceptical to the idea.

Left-right split over probe of Stockholm riots

On Sunday, a group of Swedish and British researchers argued that a formal inquiry was needed in order to investigate what may have sparked a week of violence and unrest that began in the Stockholm suburb of Husby before spreading to other suburbs in the capital and elsewhere.

However, the idea has received a decidedly chilly reception among politicians from parties of the governing Alliance coalition.

“I’m getting tired of the idea that one can find some well-thought through causes behind disturbances of this kind,” Johan Linander, a Centre Party MP and vice chair of the Riksdag’s Committee on Justice, told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

“Other than that, there is no deeper cause; rather there are criminals and young people looking for thrills.”

Moderate Party MP Krister Hammarbergh who also sits on the committee argued an inquiry would simply be a veiled criticism of the police, adding that it’s too early to draw any conclusions as the police investigation is ongoing.

Alliance colleague Johan Pehrson of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet), also panned the proposed inquiry, explaining it’s important “not to exaggerate the social misery”.

“We don’t need an inquiry into violent criminals who set cars on fire,” he said.

In calling for the formal probe into the Stockholm riots, the researchers drew parallels between the unrest in Sweden’s capital and violence in other European capitals in recent years.

“When reports of the events in Husby reached us our thoughts immediately went to similar events in Paris (2005), Athens (2008) and London (2011),” the academics wrote in an opinion article published on Sunday in SvD.

“In all cases, the police were involved in deaths. But the similarities do not only lie in the igniting spark, but also in a social situation which provides a more fundamental explanation to the events that have been called riots, disturbances or suburb revolts.”

However, Morgan Johansson, the Social Democrat chair of the parliamentary justice committee, thinks the government ought to convene a “Husby committee” along the lines of the inquiry that was set up after the 2001 riots in Gothenburg in which one demonstrator was shot by a police officer.

“What happened in Husby and other suburbs is major and serious and we need help finding the underlying causes and to look closely at the work of the police and their actions,” he told SvD.

While Green Party MP Mehmet Kaplan admitted there is a great deal of knowledge already available, he argued that politicians don’t use it.

“It’s never wrong to build more knowledge,” he told the paper.

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