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DISCRIMINATION

Police in Malmö report Danish extremist for hate crimes

Police in Malmö have reported Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan for "agitation against an ethnic group", after he burned a copy of the Koran in the city, triggering violent riots.

Police in Malmö report Danish extremist for hate crimes
The Danish extremist holds a Koran-burning protest in Landskrona on Saturday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

When Malmö police tried to have someone prosecuted for burning a copy of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, in 2020, local prosecutors decided that the act did not constitute an ethnic hate crime as covered by the law, as Muslims are not an ethnic group.   

“We believe that this needs to be considered one more time,” Jimmy Arkenheim, district police chief in Malmö, told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT. 

“We think that it would have been good to have this tested one more time in court, because we of course understand that this provokes a offence, at the same time as we have a strong freedom of expression which needs to be set against this.”

Arkenheim said that police believed it was important that the issue was considered in a courtroom and that the “full picture” was assessed again. 

“When you look at the background for how the law was developed and its purpose, we think that it needs to be looked at one more time. Then it’s possible that they again reach the same conclusion.” 

READ ALSO: Don’t blame ordinary Muslims in Sweden for the riots

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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. 

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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