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Neo-Nazi group could be banned from Sweden's annual politics festival

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Neo-Nazi group could be banned from Sweden's annual politics festival
Members of the NMR at Almedalen this year, where they handed out their publication Nordfront. Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT
17:19 CEST+02:00
Politicians on the Swedish island of Gotland want to ban an extremist neo-Nazi group from next year's Almedalen Week, the country's annual politics festival.

The neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) was granted permission to rent land in Visby during this year's edition of the event, for the first time. The Gotland municipality later made a U-turn and asked the police to stop the neo-Nazi group from attending, labelling their earlier decision a "mistake".

However, the police granted the NRM permission to attend, citing Sweden's constitutional freedom of assembly.

Now Gotland's politicians want to stop the group from participating in the 2018 Almedalen Week, by referring to the Public Order Act.

"There is no other way. We will do everything we can, because we do not want them here. It is catastrophic for the Almedalen Week that [other] organizations and associations do not dare to come here," the chairperson of the event's technical committee, Tommy Gardell, told TT.

According to Gardell, multiple groups decided not to attend the event after NMR's involvement this year, and he said the group's presence "limits freedom of expression for others". What's more, some of the group's activists destroyed other organizations' flags and disrupted several parties' events by shouting slogans and slurs.

Gardell hopes that the municipality will be able to refuse to rent land to groups like the NMR on this basis, without going against the constitutional 'principal of objectivity' which states public authorities must treat everyone equally.

Authorities have been working on a plan to oust the NMR from next year's event since summer, but have come up against numerous obstacles. It is illegal to refuse to rent land to individual groups, and nor can the group be banned under anti-terror laws, so filing a municipal veto is the latest tactic.

Almedalen is organized by the eight parties that make up Sweden's parliament, but it is the Gotland region which rents out the land used by participating groups.

This summer, the NMR rented land close to the harbour in Visby, the island's medieval capital, but they were not part of the official programme, which is decided by the parliamentary parties.

While some groups boycotted the festival due to the NMR's presence, others protested the group at the event, including with an art installation which saw a pile of shoes left outside their tents, representing the genocide carried out by Nazis during the Holocaust.

READ ALSO: Diversity protesters march against neo-Nazis at Swedish politics week

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