The right-wing extremist network Nordisk ungdom (Nordic Youth) had called on like-minded supporters across Scandinavia to gather in Stockholm and march to the King Karl XII statue in Kungsträdgården park in the city centre.
The event was to mark the 300th anniversary of Karl XII’s death, which is commonly celebrated by nationalists and neo-Nazis in Sweden. Previous events held on the anniversary of his death have turned violent in both Stockholm and Lund and Friday proved no exception.
According to police, a number of fights broke out between Nordic Youth members and counter-demonstrators. Two people were arrested and one police officer was injured when he was sprayed with pepper spray.
“Two people were arrested. One for violence against a public official and one for violating the knife law. We tried to separate the groups and see to it that they stopped fighting,” police spokesman Mats Eriksson said.
Nordic Youth had obtained a police permit for their demonstration and announced ahead of Friday’s event that they expected upwards of 300 supporters.
Members of Nordic Youth are believed to have been behind an attack on a group of people protesting against the deportation of asylum seekers last year. The group has previously been behind similar attacks and were involved in an interruption at last year’s Stockholm Pride parade.
On its website, Nordic Youth says its members are “political artists whose goal and purpose is to provoke and awaken peoples’ emotions” and it rails against “a global power structure” and “an equation and levelling of all cultures”. It says it wants to “re-civilize the West, retake Sweden, Scandinavia and Europe”.
Member’s of Sweden’s more openly Nazi group, the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), were not believed to have been part of Friday’s event. Jonathan Leman, a researcher at the Swedish anti-racism foundation Expo, said he would not be surprised if NRM stayed away.
“To oversimplify it, the white power movement is made up of two blocs: NRM and all the rest. It will be the rest that will rally around this,” Leman said ahead of Friday’s demonstration.
Heléne Lööw, a professor of history at Uppsala University and an expert on right-wing movements, said that the importance of King Karl XII’s death anniversary has waned in recent years but he still remains a symbol of the white nationalist movement.
Karl XII fought a series of battles against Russia, Denmark, Saxony and Poland. Between 1715 and 1718 he ruled Sweden from Lund. He was killed in Fredriksten, Norway, on November 30th 1718 by a shot to the head.