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Sweden arrests two women linked to Islamic State

Two women linked to the Islamic State group were arrested by Swedish police after they flew back from Syria.

Sweden arrests two women linked to Islamic State
Three women and their six children landed at Arlanda Airport in Sweden on Monday after they were deported from Syria. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Stockholm police spokesman Ola Österling said the prosecutor leading the investigation into the two women had ordered their arrest.

“We executed that decision when the plane arrived in Stockholm in the afternoon,” Österling told AFP. A third woman had been taken in for questioning, he added.

A statement from the Prosecution Authority Monday said multiple investigations were under way against men and women returning from areas that had been controlled by the Islamic State group (Isis or IS).

“The international crimes that are relevant for people for people returning from Isis-controlled areas are war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity,” public prosecutor Reena Devgun said in the statement.

“Sweden has an international committment to investigate and prosecute these crimes,” she added.

The Prosecution Authority added that it could not comment on individual cases or the number of investigations under way.

But public broadcaster SVT reported that at least one of the women arrested was being investigated for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

SVT also reported that the women who had returned Monday had been staying in camps in northern Syria but had been deported by Kurdish authorities after deciding they did not have enough evidence to prosecute them.

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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