Riots broke out in cities over the weekend in Sweden after a Danish politician proposed burning copies of the Quran.
The Swedish National Police Commander Jonas Hysing announced on April 18 that 26 police officers and 14 people were injured in the riots. The injured included both protestors and non-protestors. Hysing also told the media that 20 police vehicles were destroyed in the riots.
“There is a lot to suggest that the police were targeted,” Hysing said at a press conference
At least 3 people were injured at a riot on April 17 in Norrkoping, a city southwest of Stockholm.
Law enforcement fired warning shots in an effort to disperse an estimated 150 protestors who threw stones at police and their vehicles. The injured people are believed to have been hit by ricocheting bullets.
“All three injured are arrested on suspicion of crime,” police told the media.
Riots also occurred in Stockholm, Orebro, Landkrona, and Malmo over the weekend. Reports of arson, unrest and violence have been documented across the country for the last three days.
Sweden, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible. pic.twitter.com/j25IYDhb2h
— Petter Ershag (KD) (@PErshag) April 17, 2022
Welcome to #Sweden pic.twitter.com/upemjWILOn
— Åsk Dabitch Wäppling 🇸🇪 ᚬᛋᚴ ᛏᛅᛒᛁᛏᚴᚼ ᚢᛅᛅᛒᛒᛚᛁᚾᚴ (@dabitch) April 17, 2022
According to National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg, the violent demonstrations have been linked to a “criminal gang” that was allegedly motivated by Rasmus Paludan, a Danish right-wing politician who planned to burn the Quaran during a political demonstration on Easter Sunday in Norrkoping.
Paludan is the founder of the political party Stram Kurs, or “Hard Line,” which claims to be “the most patriotic political party in Denmark.”
It has been described by some outlets as anti-immigration and anti-Islam.
“On Thursday, Paludan went to an open public space in a Muslim neighborhood in southern Linkoping,” reports IB Times. “Paludan, accompanied by the police, placed [a] Quran in a public space and burned it while ignoring the protests.”
On the Stram Kurs Facebook page, Paludan vowed to burn more Qurans in the future.
He told his supporters at a Good Friday rally on April 15 that he believes Islam is incompatible with Swedish and Western society.
“What happened in Linköping and Norrköping is completely reprehensible and will never be accepted,” Thornberg said in his statement. “We live in a democratic society and one of the most important tasks of the police is to ensure that people can use their constitutionally protected rights to demonstrate and express their opinion. The police should not choose who has that right, but always intervene if a crime occurs.”
After violence broke out, Paludan canceled the April 17 rally citing concern for the lack of security.
The Associated Press reports that Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned Sweden’s charge d’affaires for a meeting and warned that the Quran burnings “could seriously endanger Sweden’s relations with the Muslim world.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the Quaran burning on April 17.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns the burning of the sacred word of God (the Quaran) in the Swedish city of Linkoping by a Danish racist and extremist elements that has occurred under the pretext of freedom of speech with the support of that country’s police,” said Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesperson for the ministry.
A large number of Muslim migrants arrived in Sweden during the 2015 refugee crisis.