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


Swedes most worried about organized crime

Sweden's defence and security elite gathers for three days of debating, dining and skiing amid reports that a majority of Swedes believe organized crime is the biggest security threat.

Swedes most worried about organized crime

The conference in the popular winter resort Sälen is organized annually by Society and Defence (Folk och Försvar), an umbrella organization that aims to stimulate public debate about defence and security policy.

Sweden’s Prince Daniel is attending the 2013 conference and among the speakers are the commander in chief of Sweden’s Armed Forces, Sverker Göranson; Defence Minister Karin Enström; EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström; Nato General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen; National Police Commissioner, Bengt Svensson; and Swedish Security (Säpo) chief, Anders Thornberg.

As the conference participants gathered in Sälen, a report from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap) showed that a majority of Swedes see international organized crime as the top security threat to the country.

Three out of four respondents said that they are quite worried or very worried about organized crime.

Seventy-three percent said they are most worried about relations between the Muslim and Christian world, while two out of three respondents cited depletion of the Earth’s resources as their top concern.

The past year’s events in the Middle East and an influx of refugees are two other issues that concern Swedes, cited by 65 and 56 percent of respondents respectively.

Extremism in Sweden and Europe dominate debates on the first day of the 2013 Society and Defence conference.

The agenda of the second day is mostly taken up by discussion about Nato and Sweden, as well as the hotly debated issue of Sweden’s defence capabilities, which security experts have said are flailing.

The theme for the third and final day is crisis management and how to prepare for natural disasters, with one panel discussion dedicated to lessons learnt from Hurricane Sandy on the US East Coast.

Society and Defence’s annual national conference attracts around 300 participants and 40 speakers for three days of lectures and debates as well social events and skiing.

The participants are representatives from trade and industry, political parties, government authorities, youth organizations and various NGOs.

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