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19 cars burned in suspected arson attack in Stockholm

Unknown criminals set fire to 19 cars in the Östberga area of southern Stockholm over the weekend.

19 cars burned in suspected arson attack in Stockholm
The damaged cars in a car park south of Stockholm city centre. Photo: Jessica Gow / TT

Police and emergency services were alerted to the fires by multiple calls, and by 2am on Sunday morning had managed to extinguish them. 

“When we got there, there were a lot of people at the scene and over ten cars were ablaze. But it's extinguished now,” firefighter Christer Eriksson told SVT.

A total of 19 cars were damaged, according to a police statement.

Local resident Naji Ahmed was one of those whose car was completely destroyed in the fire.

Despite this, he told the TT newswire his experience of the neighbourhood was positive, saying: “I have lived here for 34 years and think it's a safe area with good neighbours.”

Östberga is located south of the city centre and is one of several neighbourhoods classified by Swedish police as 'vulnerable', a name given to areas judged to be “characterized by a low socio-economic status where criminals have an impact on the local community”.

Police have classified the crime as gross infliction of damage.

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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. 

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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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