Sunday, 29 May, 2022
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New clashes over anti-immigration rally in Sweden

New clashes over anti-immigration rally in Sweden

Swedish police said officers wounded three people Sunday in the eastern city of Norrkoping as demonstrators protested plans by a far-right group to burn copies of the Koran.

"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.

Sunday's clashes in Norrkoping were the second there in four days.

On the first occasion, the demonstrators had protested against a rally by anti-immigration and anti-Islam group Hard Line, led by the Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan, 40.

On Sunday, they rallied again in protest another gathering, which in the end Paludan abandoned.

Four people were arrested among the approximately 150 participants, as protester threw stones at officers and cars were set on fire, police said.

According to health services quoted by local news agency TT, 10 people were hospitalised with minor injuries following the clashes and similar unrest in the neighbouring town of Linkpping, where far-right Hard Line also abandoned a demonstration.

- Swedish 'tour' -

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, is currently on a "tour" of Sweden.

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

A lawyer and YouTuber, he has previously been convicted of racist insults.

In 2019, he burned a Koran wrapped in bacon and was blocked for a month by Facebook after a post conflating immigration and crime.

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.

Hard Line's tour has sparked several clashes between the police and counter-protesters across the Scandinavian country in recent days. On Thursday and Friday, around 12 police officers were injured in the clashes.

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.