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Gothenburg neo-Nazi demonstration ends after hours of unrest

A neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) demonstration in central Gothenburg has ended, two hours after police permission for the march expired.

Gothenburg neo-Nazi demonstration ends after hours of unrest
Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

The neo-Nazi group was forced to bring its march through Gothenburg to a premature end but has reportedly threatened new demonstrations – possibly without police permission.

A huge effort by police was successful in keeping the NMr and counter protestors separated, although two people are reported injured and 60 detained by police as a result of the day’s events.

Several hundred NMR supporters began the march along the route for which authorities issued permission, but several protestors tried to break out of the designated area near the Ica Focus shopping mall and Svenska Mässan conference centre, which was hosting a Book Fair on Saturday.

Several of the protestors who tried to break through police lines were arrested, including NMR leader Simon Lindberg, reports TT. 

Two hours after the demonstration was scheduled to disperse, the NMR, waving banners and surrounded by police, left the area near the Ica Focus shopping mall and Svenska Mässan conference centre in central Gothenburg.

The group returned to the starting point of the march, according to the report.

Road blocks in the city have since been lifted.

The neo-Nazi organisation’s spokesperson Pär Öberg said in the group’s own online broadcast of the demonstration that he regretted that the demonstration could not be completed.

Öberg said that he expected “this will be the last time [NMR] will ask for permission” to demonstrate.

NMR protestors clashed violently with police during the demonstration, shouting slogans such as “race traitor” (folkförrädare) and “Nordic revolution, no pardon” (nordisk revolution, utan pardon).


Police clash with NMR demonstrators. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

NMR demonstrators also attacked a group of journalists, forcing them towards a line of empty police busses, according to a report by newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

At least two people have been injured as result of the day’s unrest.

The number of counter demonstrators far outweighed the amount of NMR supporters, and violent elements of these attacked police on several occasions, including by throwing stones, reports TT.

Counter-protestors rushed at police near the Liseberg Amusement Park, with horses deployed to keep them under control. According to a statement on the police website, stones were thrown during that flashpoint with a number of people held by police near the main entrance to the amusement park.

“In connection with the disturbances at Liseberg, where we moved away counter-demonstrators, stones were thrown, resulting in injury to one civilian. The person was hit by an object and has been taken to hospital by ambulance,” police press spokesperson Peter Adlersson said.


Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

A police officer was also taken to hospital with minor injuries earlier in the day.

NMR leader Simon Lindberg has been arrested on suspicion of assault, reports newspaper Expressen.

“Simon Lindberg participated at the beginning of the unrest and is suspected of violent unrest and assaulting a police officer,” police press spokesperson Hans Lippens told the newspaper.

Several people, including foreign citizens, were detained prior to the demonstration by police in Gothenburg and other parts of Sweden on suspicion of intending to carry out assault. 

READ ALSO: Swedish police make arrests prior to Gothenburg Nazi demonstration

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SWEDISH HISTORY

Why is Gothenburg known as Sweden’s ‘Little London’?

With ties to Britain dating back more than 200 years, the city of Gothenburg has long been known as Sweden’s Little London.

Why is Gothenburg known as Sweden’s 'Little London'?

Grey skies, rainy days, a wide-mouthed river, and a love for English pubs. At first glance, it’s no wonder that Gothenburg has long held the nickname of Sweden’s own “Little London”, or Lilla London

But what are the origins of this British title?

“The nickname ‘Little London’ was first used in a newspaper in 1766,” explains Håkan Strömberg, educational officer at the Museum of Gothenburg.

“The Brits were the largest immigration group during the 1700s and early 1800s, mainly because Sweden was a country close by, it was economically underdeveloped compared to England and Scotland and had a lot of raw materials. To put it simply, could make some money here.”

The city’s reputation as a British enclave dates back to the 1700s when trade brought many foreign influences to the Västra Götaland region.

As merchants and shipbuilders like Charles Chapman, David Carnegie, and James Dickson moved to the area, local residents began to notice a growing list of similarities between the Swedish port city and the British capital.

Indeed, even one of Sweden’s most renowned scientists, Carl Von Linné, is said to have commented on the similarities between the two cities when he visited Gothenburg in the 1700s.

 “Being a group of upper-class immigrants, the British merchants made sure they had access to all the good things from their home country. But the feeling of Gothenburg as a Little London was most likely something the Swedish citizens had, rather than the Brits,” adds Strömberg. 

The historical roots that connect the UK and Gothenburg are still evident today, with many spots in the city still alluding to British names, like Chalmers University – founded by the son of a wealthy Scottish industrialist, or Chapmans Torgnamed after a family of sailors and shipbuilders once well-established in the area. 

Catriona Chaplin, a British expat turned Gothenburger, only began to see the similarities and know of the nickname after relocating to the region for work. Growing up in Leicestershire, central England, she’d never heard of London’s Swedish sibling city.

“We came to Gothenburg 17 years ago. We’d never heard about [the nickname] until we moved here, but there is a bar on Avenyn called Lilla London, so that’s when we started to know about it,” she says.

Today, as the membership secretary of the British Club of Gothenburg, she brings a taste of the British Isles to life in Gothenburg.

The Club, which organises social events like concerts, quiz nights, and theatre performances, has a membership base of nearly 200 families. And although less than 0.5 percent of Gothenburg’s population today was born in the UK, the club welcomes members from a range of nationalities.

In fact, the only membership requirement is having some kind of interest in the UK, be it from a cultural standpoint, a past tourist experience, or a love of the language. 

“People come to the British Club just to socialise in their native language. It’s also about the culture, like the banter, the jokes and playing on words,” she says. 

Although the city’s British roots run deep, questions remain about modern-day Gothenburg’s status as “Little London”.

To some, the west-coast maritime hub’s industrial legacy, strong working-class culture, and amiable nature are reminiscent of a different English city. “They ought to call it ‘Little Liverpool’!” says Chaplin, with a smile. 

Lasting Landmarks

Evidence of Gothenburg’s British connections can be found in many of its landmarks, shops, and of course, pubs. Some of the historical hotspots still apparent today include:

Haga – The British ‘hood 

The area of Haga, just outside the old city, was once considered a slum, but changed character thanks to British philanthropist Robert Dickson (1782-1858), who built public baths, a library, and other landmarks with the typical red bricks found in Britain at the time.

St Andrew’s Church 

A key part of the British community is the Anglican church of Saint Andrew’s, also in Haga. Dedicated to the patron saint of Scotland, it was built and to date funded by ‘The British Factory’, a British society founded in the 1700s to help expats in Gothenburg that remains active even today.

The Victorian gothic style of the church is in line with the architectural trend in Britain at the time. 

John Scott – a legend among Gothenburgers

One of Gothenburg’s most well-loved establishments is John Scott’s, a local pub chain named after Pastor John Henry Scott, an Englishman and prominent landowner in 18th century Gothenburg. 

The “English quarter”

The square of buildings delineated by Teatergatan, Storgatan, Kungsportsavenyn and Vasagatan was once known as the city’s English Quarter. The buildings in this neighbourhood are influenced by British design, and the original landowners were in fact English pastor John Henry Scott and his wife, Jacobina.

By Alexander Maxia, Lisa Ostrowski and Sanna Sailer

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