STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Counter-protesters demonstrating against a far-right group’s intention to burn a Koran in Orebro in central Sweden clashed with police on Friday, leaving nine police officers injured, authorities said. Police said in a statement that nine officers were injured in all. Their injuries included “broken arms and police officers who have been hit by stones,” police spokesperson Diana Qudhaib told the daily Aftonbladet. A member of the public was also hit by a stone to the head.
The demonstration, involving around 200 people, according to local media, dispersed later in the evening. It was the second day running that there had been clashes on the fringes of a rally by the anti-immigration and anti-Islamic Stram Kurs (Hard Line) movement led by Danish-Swedish Rasmus Paludan.
Three police officers had to be taken to hospital after a riot broke out in the city of Linkoping on Sweden’s east coast on Thursday, where a demonstration that included a Quran burning was planned. Two people were arrested at that protest.
Reacting to the violence, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said; “In Sweden, people are allowed to express their opinions, whether they are in good or bad taste, that is part of our democracy. No matter what you think, you must never resort to violence. We will never accept it.”
“This is exactly the kind of violent reaction he (Rasmus Paludan) wants to see. The very purpose is to incite people against each other,” she added in comments to the TT news agency. Paludan has regularly been at the centre of incidents in recent years. In November 2020, he was arrested in France and deported. Five other activists were arrested in Belgium shortly afterwards, accused of wanting to “spread hatred” by burning a Quran in Brussels. – AFP