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CRIME

Swedish woman charged with helping IS recruit teenage son as child soldier

A Swedish woman is set to face trial for allegedly letting her young son fight for the Islamic State group as a child soldier in Syria.

Swedish woman charged with helping IS recruit teenage son as child soldier
File photo of a Swedish court room. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It’s the first case of its kind.

The Swedish woman allegedly travelled to Syria in 2013, Sweden’s prosecution authority said, a year before the jihadist group declared a “caliphate” in large swathes of the country and neighbouring Iraq.

The 49-year-old stands accused of having allowed her son to fight for armed groups, including IS, from the age of 12 to 15.

“The woman is being charged for having made possible that he be recruited and used as a child soldier” from August 2013 to May 2016, prosecutors said in a statement.

During that time, he allegedly took part “in hostilities performed by armed groups, including the terrorist organisation IS”.

The boy then died in 2017, the statement added, without elaborating on the cause of his death.

“This is the first time charges are being brought in Sweden for the war crime of using a child soldier,” the prosecution authority said.

The woman, who returned to Sweden in 2020 after the military defeat of the IS proto-state, has denied all charges.

But public prosecutor Reena Devgun said an investigation seemed to indicate otherwise.

It showed that “the son, during the time he lived at home, was educated and trained to partake in the hostilities, and that he had been equipped with military equipment in addition to military weapons and that he was used in battle”, she said in a statement.

Public broadcaster SVT said the woman had left Sweden for Syria in 2013 with her five children.

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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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