Helsinki: Police in Sweden arrested More than 40 people after violent clashes broke out in Sweden. Angry ordinary citizens clashed with the police over plans by a far-right group to burning copies of the Quran.
On Sunday, three people were injured in Norrkoping when officers fired warning shots at rioters, police said.
A series of rallies organized by Rasmus Paludan, the Danish-Swedish politician, sparked the violence.
He says he has burned a copy of the Quran, Islam’s holy book and wants to do so again.
Muslims consider the Quran the sacred word of God and view any intentional damage or show of disrespect toward it as deeply offensive.
Saudi Arabia has condemned the “deliberate abuse of the Holy Quran by extremists in Sweden. And condemned the provocation and incitement against Muslims.”
Iraq and Iran summoned the Swedish ambassadors and lodged strong protests.
Anders Thornberg, Sweden’s National Police Chief, said he had never seen such violent riots following Sunday’s clashes in Norrkoping, about 160km (99 miles) southwest of Stockholm, near Linkoping.
The two cities also witnessed riots on Friday, along with Rinkeby, a Stockholm suburb and Orebro, a western town. The southern city of Malmo found itself embroiled in riots on Saturday.
Monday, police reported 26 police officers and 14 members of the public injured in the violence. It also said over 20 vehicles had been destroyed or damaged.
The police believe that around 200 people had organized the violence. Adding they believed networks of criminal gangs organized the riots. Some of the individuals are already known to police and Sweden’s security service, Sapo.
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Sunday’s violence in Norrkoping came after Rasmus Paludan said he planned to hold a rally there. However, he never showed up in the city.
In a statement posted by his far-right, anti-immigrant Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party, Paludan said he canceled the rally because Swedish authorities had “shown that they are completely incapable of protecting themselves and me”.
He had earlier appeared on Thursday in the central city of Jonkoping, but as he talked into a megaphone while holding a Quran, local church bells tolled in protest drowned his voice.
Protests against plans by Stram Kurs to burn the Quran have turned violent in Sweden before. In 2020, protesters set cars on fire and shop fronts were damaged in clashes in Malmö.
Paludan represented Stram Kurs party in the last Danish elections in 2019, where it received 1.8 % of the vote, failing to win a seat.
In 2020, he was jailed in Denmark for a month for multiple offenses, including racism.
Paludan plans to stand in Swedish elections in September, but he does not yet have the required number of signatures for a candidature.