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CRIME

Swedish politician: ‘I was raped at knifepoint’

Police are investigating after a Left Party politician said he was attacked and raped because of his political beliefs.

Swedish politician: 'I was raped at knifepoint'
File photo of a police car. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Patrik Liljeglöd, group leader of the Left Party in Falun in central Sweden, told his story at a council meeting and in a public post on social media on Thursday evening. He said that at the end of July he was walking home one evening when an unknown man approached him and threatened him with a knife.

“I was brutally treated and also raped at knife point because I was a female Left genitalia, that people like us like this and finally that I was a traitor,” Liljeglöd paraphrased some of the attacker's words.

“The few words and sentences expressed by the man had a clear connection to me as politically active and therefore it affects us all. Standing here telling you what happened to me is not something I enjoy doing, I would rather bury this incident so deep down in the bedrock that nobody else other than me would ever know.”

“Nor do I seek your compassion or empathy, but I'm standing here because in my deeply rooted conviction that democracy should be an inviolable part of our society, I feel that I have to,” he wrote on Facebook.

No one has been arrested, but police have been investigating the incident since the summer.

“We have examined the crime scene and sent the results to the National Forensic Centre, but we are still waiting for their analysis,” police spokesperson Stefan Dangardt told the TT news agency.

“If it turns out that the motive is his political allegiance then it is obviously a hate crime.”

READ ALSO: How is Sweden tackling threats against politicians and journalists?

The Local last month investigated threats against politicians in Sweden, after a number of elected representatives announced they had stood down or were standing down as a result of these threats.

But Liljeglöd vowed on Thursday that he would not quit, writing: “Nothing is more important than democracy, people die for the right to democracy every day and the right we have inherited through our parents' fight we have to continue fighting for. And we have to remind those citizens who have forgotten why.”

Almost three out of ten elected officials (28 percent) told Sweden's National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) in the election year of 2014 that they had faced harassment, threats or violence that year, compared to 20 percent in 2012. This does not necessarily indicate an overall increase, as such incidents tend to peak during election years, but there's only a year to go to Sweden's next election.

Sweden's Culture and Democracy Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke told The Local in an interview last month that she had urged police to prioritize crimes against free speech as part of a new government action plan designed to combat threats against specifically politicians, journalists and artists.

“Journalists, artists and elected representatives work on the basis of those freedoms and opportunities that free speech offers. So when they are threatened, free speech is also threatened,” she said at the time.

READ ALSO: Sweden's rape statistics explained

CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

READ ALSO: 

More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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