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PROTESTS

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Riot-equipped police pass a barricade at the centre of Ringdansen during the riots in Navestad in Norrköping on Easter day, 2022.
Riot-equipped police pass a barricade at the centre of Ringdansen during the riots in Navestad in Norrköping on Easter day, 2022. The unrest was triggered by the right-wing extremist Rasmus Paludan saying that he will return to Östergötland for new demonstrations during the day. Photo Stefan Jerrevång / TT

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.

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PROTESTS

Swedish police say riots are ‘extremely serious crimes against society’

The Swedish Chief of Police said on Monday the recent unrest in Sweden were 'serious crimes'. So far 26 people have been arrested after weekend clashes between police and protesters rallying against plans by a far-right group to burn copies of the Koran.

Swedish police say riots are 'extremely serious crimes against society'

“These are extremely serious crimes against our society,” the Swedish national police chief, Anders Thornberg said at a press conference on Monday.

He believes those involved have focused on harming the police.  “Attempts were made to kill police officers”, he said.

National Police Chief Anders Thornberg and Jonas Hysing, Commander-in-Chief on the left, have a press conference due to the violence of recent days.

National Police Chief Anders Thornberg and Jonas Hysing, Commander-in-Chief on the left, have a press conference due to the violence of recent days. Photo by Fredrik Persson/TT

The riots began on Thursday 14th April ahead of a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that was meant to include a burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

While Stram Kurs had been given permission to hold their demonstration in the Skaggetorp neighbourhood — where over 50 percent of inhabitants were born abroad — they were not able to start it as police were dealing with the rioters.

Counter-protesters throw stones at the police in Sveaparken in Örebro, where Rasmus Paludan had received permission for a gathering on Good Friday. Photo: Kicki Nilsson / TT

The riots have continued to escalate over the weekend. Jonas Hysing, Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish police, said at the press conference that he sees the police as the target of the violence.

“There is a lot to suggest that it was the police who were the target – rather than the organiser,” he said.

Police and ambulance personnel take care of an injured man who was shot in the leg during the riots in Navestad in Norrköping on Easter

Police and ambulance personnel take care of an injured man who was shot in the leg during the riots in Navestad in Norrköping on Easter day. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång / TT

According to Jonas Hysing, 26 police officers have been injured, 20 police vehicles have been damaged or destroyed, while 14 civilians have been injured.

In all, about 200 people have been involved in the riots. According to police, those involved have links to criminal networks.

“Criminals have profited from the situation to show violence toward society, without any link to the demonstrations,” national police chief Anders Thornberg said.

“There are too few of us. We have grown, but we have not grown at the same pace as the problems at the heart of society,” he said, asking for more resources for the police.

“These are extremely serious crimes that have targeted our society. It’s worse than violent riots, from my point of view. This is something else. These are not ordinary counter-protesters”, the national police chief added.

Police have footage from their own body cameras and videos from members of the public but they are also urging people to share their footage with police by uploading it onto the police website.

26 people have been arrested so far. Eight people were arrested in the city of Norrköping and 18 people were detained in the neighbouring city of Linköping, police said in a statement.

 People make a barricade with burnt car tires and other objects at Ringdansen center, in connection with riots in Navestad in Norrköping on Easter day

People make a barricade with burnt car tires and other objects at Ringdansen centre, in connection with riots in Navestad in Norrköping on Easter day. Photo Stefan Jerrevång / TT kod 60160

Late on Sunday evening, there was unrest and several fires in the Malmö district of Rosengård. “There was a fairly large fire at Rosengårdsskolan, and we had to escort the fire brigade so that they could put out the fire. It is unclear how much of the school has been destroyed,” police stated.

Earlier on Sunday, there were also riots in the cities of Norrköping and Linköping. Here Rasmus Paludan had announced several Koran burnings, but did not show up.

Police said officers wounded three people after firing warning shots during Sunday’s clashes.

“Police fired several warning shots. Three people appear to have been hit by ricochets and are currently being treated in hospital”, police said in a statement. The three who were injured were under arrest, police said, adding that their condition was not known.

Swedish ‘tour’

Rasmus Paludan, who intends to stand in Swedish legislative elections in September but does not yet have the necessary number of signatures to secure his candidature, has been on a “tour” of Sweden.

He has been visiting neighbourhoods with large Muslim populations where he wants to burn copies of the Koran

Paludan told Norwegian TV2 on Monday that he is taking a week off from his election tour.

“I am in Copenhagen, and there will probably only be new election meetings in Sweden in a week”, he said on Monday.

According to spokeswoman for the Swedish police, Carina Skagerlind, the police are not aware that permits have been granted for upcoming Paludan voter meetings.

Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish right-wing extremist party Stram Kurs pictured in 2021.

Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish right-wing extremist party Stram Kurs pictured in 2021. Photo: Nils Petter Nilsson / TT

The leader of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party, who has a criminal conviction in Denmark for inciting racial hatred, was previously banned from entering Sweden for two years. But he later confirmed he was a Swedish citizen as well as a Danish citizen, and could therefore not be banned from entering the country.

Paludan, a lawyer and YouTuber, came to prominence in Denmark through his anti-Islam demonstrations in areas with sizeable minority ethnic communities. The main feature of the demonstrations is burning and desecration of the Koran.

On Saturday, one of his rallies was moved from a district of Landskrona to an isolated car park in southern Malmo, the large neighbouring city, but a car tried to force the protective barriers. The driver was arrested and Paludan then burned a Koran.

In the wake of the string of incidents, Iraq’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires in Baghdad Sunday.

It warned that the affair could have “serious repercussions” on “relations between Sweden and Muslims in general, both Muslim and Arab countries and Muslim communities in Europe”.

In November 2020, Paludan was arrested in France and deported. Five other activists were arrested in Belgium shortly after, accused of wanting to “spread hatred” by burning a Koran in Brussels.

READ MORE:

Danish far-right extremist plans to use Swedish citizenship for new provocative demos

Malmö Koran riots: ‘I don’t think we will come back to normal’

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