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Can Sweden's new terror law be used to stop an anti-Nato demonstration?

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Can Sweden's new terror law be used to stop an anti-Nato demonstration?
A PKK flag at a protest in Malmö. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Turkish officials are demanding that Sweden's new terror law be applied to an anti-Nato demonstration this coming weekend. What does the law cover, and can it be used to stop a protest?


Turkey wants Sweden to stop the demonstration on June 4th as it believes that it will be attended by members of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), who are classed as a terror organisation by the EU, the US and Turkey, among other countries.

In a Tweet, Fahrettin Altun, a spokesperson for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wrote that Turkey "sincerely hopes" that Sweden's new anti-terror law, which came into force on June 1st, will be properly enforced.

"Specifically, the Swedish authorities must prevent PKK members from demonstrating on 4 June if they are serious about addressing Türkiye’s concerns."

Altun further described the projection of a PKK flag on the Swedish parliament earlier this week as "completely unacceptable", adding that Turkey expects Swedish authorities "to investigate this incident, hold accountable those responsible, and stop self-identified members of PKK [...] from operating on Swedish soil."

Left-wing activist group Rojavakommittéerna, the Swedish solidarity committee for Rojava, was behind the flag-projecting stunt, as well as another protest in January condemned by Turkey where the group posted a video of a President Erdoğan effigy swinging by its legs from a rope. The group also plans to attend the Nato protest on June 4th.


Can Sweden's new terror law be used to block the protest?

In short, no. The new terror law criminalised a wide range of actions taken to support a terrorist group, such as arranging meeting places, looking after housing, looking after children, making food, and arranging transport.

"It's about other ways of supporting or promoting terrorist groups, such as logistics, administration, transport and finance," Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer told TT newswire.

Expressing support or sympathy for a terror group is not criminalised under the new law unless it qualifies as propaganda.

Strömmer further told TT that the Swedish government would not be responsible for deciding whether the protest would be allowed to go ahead or not.

"Our laws are formed in such a way that those decisions are not made by the government, rather by the responsible authority, so I'll have to refer you to them," he said. 

The responsible authority in this case would be the Swedish police. Sweden's constitution protects the right to demonstrate and the police can only deny permission for a protest if they deem it a risk to public order.

Sweden has presented the law – which was first proposed in 2017 in response to a terror attack in central Stockholm – as an important tool to be used in the fight against the PKK in order to meet Turkey's demands for approving Sweden's Nato membership.

Strömmer told TT that he believes Sweden held its end of the deal.

"We've made a number of clear commitments to work hard to fight terrorism, and also to implement legislation against participation [in terrorist activities]," he said.

"That has now been implemented and in doing so I believe we have fulfilled a very central part of the agreement between our countries."


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Pierluigi 2023/06/02 12:40
"Expressing support or sympathy for a terror group is not criminalised under the new law unless it qualifies as propaganda" So it's perfectly ok if I express support and sympathy for ISIS or similar?

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