Neo-Nazi clashes in Sweden: One year on

Neo-Nazi clashes in Sweden: One year on
The Kärrtorp riots shook Sweden in 2013. Photo: TT
A year after the violent clashes in Stockholm between neo-Nazis and anti-racist demonstrators, the presence of right-wing extremist groups remains strong. But the angry scenes helped inspire a more united anti-fascist movement with another protest rally planned this weekend.

The clashes on December 15th last year were sparked after members of the Swedish Resistance Movement (Svenska Motståndsrörelsen – SMR) attacked an anti-fascist rally in Kärrtorp. Scores were injured and dozens arrested amidst violent scenes with neo-Nazis chanting 'Sieg Heil' and launching fireworks at the protesters. 

Eventually the right-wing activists were forced to retreat and flee the scene as the police battled to control the situation.

"I still get shivers thinking that us ordinary people were able to force the hardline Nazis back. With the help of the chants we were able to push them into the woods," Ammar Khorshed, of the Line 17 against racism group, told the TT news agency.

The manifestation in Kärrtorp a year ago was held in reaction to Nazi grafitti being daubed in the area. A large crowd of protesters gathered in the main square before a group of men clad in black stormed the square and all hell broke loose.

In the ensuing mayhem the estimated 50 neo-Nazis engaged in violent clashes with the protesters. Police arrested dozens of people at the scene and to date more than 30 people, most from the neo-Nazi group, have been prosecuted.

On the anniversary of the incident the evidence presented to the prosecution suggests it was an unprovoked attack. Among the material being sifted through by the prosecutors is video footage of the day's events captured by neo-Nazis as well as protesters.

"There's been a lot of interest. Particularly at the beginning the phone was ringing all the time. I have also received emails and questions from the public that I had not experienced before," prosecutor Tove Kullberg told TT.

IN PICTURES: Swedish police herd neo-Nazis away from anti-racism demonstrators in Kärrtorp on December 15th, 2013

Several high ranking members of Swedish Resistance Movement have already been given prison sentences in connection with the events. 

Despite this the Expo Foundation, which studies the activities of right-wing movements, has claimed that the Swedish Resistance Movement remains highly active. In 2014 they stated that group has organized over 300 activities ranging from distributing leaflets to organizing pro-Nazi manifestations. 

"It has not decreased at all. It also a point of wanting to show strength. They want to show that the movement is still active, it's important for propaganda," Anna-Sofia Quensel of Expo told TT.

The vast majority of protesters last year chanted 'no racists on our streets' and their actions were interpreted as self-defence by prosecutors investigating the case.

One man from the radical left Revolutionary front went too far and stabbed one of the neo-Nazis and was subsequently sentenced to six and half years in jail for the attack.

Ammar Khorshed of the anti-racist movement Line 17 said the Kärrtorp rally was a game changer.

"That was really the turning point. After Kärrtorp, anti-racism became a social movement," he said.

An anti-Nazi manifestation will be held this weekend in Kärrtorp with organizers hoping it passes more peacefully than last time.  

TT/The Local/pr

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