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Gotland rape protests take place 'according to plan'

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Gotland rape protests take place 'according to plan'
Left Party politician Saga Carlgren speaking at the Sunday demo. Photo: Tommy Söderlund/TT
09:18 CEST+02:00
The planned rallies on the Swedish island of Gotland took place without any major incidents at the weekend, despite police sending extra back-up to the location ahead of the demonstrations.

Police reinforcements were called out to the holiday island ahead of the weekend round of demos, which saw anti-immigration party the Sweden Democrats protest on Saturday, and a rival anti-racism and anti-sexism demonstration on Sunday.

The protests were sparked by the fall-out over an ongoing investigation into an alleged gang rape, which saw five men arrested on suspicion of rape then later released when the prosecutor judged that there was not enough evidence to remand them in custody.

The prosecutor then quit the case last week when several men reportedly came to his house and made threats against him.

Gotland Police said on their website on Sunday evening that both protests took place 'according to plan' however.

"Demonstrators were assigned to their own place where they had a chance to express their opinion," police added. 

On Sunday, protestors gathered at the medieval town of Visby to make speeches and perform music, and according to news agency TT, the atmosphere was largely a warm one among the large turnout.

No disturbances broke out at the rally, though police did separate members of neo-Nazi group the Nordic Resistance Movement from the rest of the demonstrators, according to local newspaper Hela Gotland.

Gotland dean Mats Hermansson attended, but canceled the speech he had planned to make.

“I had hoped for a broader demonstration with all political parties. When it turned out not to be like that I thought there was no point in getting up and saying something. But I was there anyway and showed support the whole time,” he told TT.

“It was very nice, almost a folk festival. There was really nice music, so people danced and there were very good and clear speeches.”

Part of the tension around the alleged rape case is due to online speculation that some of the suspects may be asylum seekers.

Gotland resident Agneta Berg said she felt the need to participate in Sunday's rally as a result.

“I am a volunteer in a network around Garda, where there is accommodation for asylum seekers. My husband works with two unaccompanied minor refugees. We have taken a lot to do with asylum seekers here, and I want Gotland to be welcoming to people who flee from war,” she told TT.

“This is a reaction to the racists who have taken over after the rape case. You don't want their agenda to apply,” she added.

Police are awaiting the results of a DNA test in the rape investigation, which it is hoped will determine how many people may have been involved.

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