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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'
Police block off rioters in Rosengård, Malmö, on Saturday night. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

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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CRIME

Almedalen knife attacker linked to Swedish neo-Nazi groups: reports

The man behind the knife attack at Sweden's Almedalen political festival has been active in the militant neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, Swedish media have reported.

Almedalen knife attacker linked to Swedish neo-Nazi groups: reports

He has taken part in several neo-Nazi demonstrations over the past few years and has also expressed support for the extreme right Alternative for Sweden party on social media, the Expressen newspaper reported.

The Moderate MP Hanif Bali said on Twitter after the news came out that the stabbing was “a terror attack”. “This is nothing other than a terror attack”. 

The man stabbed a woman in the upper body at the Donners plats square only a minute’s walk from the stage where all eight of Sweden’s parliamentary party leaders are making speeches this week at the Almedalen political festival. The women is being treated for severe injuries at the Visby Lasarett hospital. 

The 30-something attacker fled the scene but was stopped and arrested by Lars Reuterberg, a 69-year-old pensioner. 

Reuterberg told the TT newswire that he had heard someone shout “stop him!” and then seen a man jump over a fence from the corner restaurant. 

“I thought he’d nicked a bag or something, and my spontaneous reaction was ‘I should take him down’. He wasn’t such a big guy, certainly no bodybuilder, so I tried to look a little uninterested, but when he came near me he ended up on the end of mighty great shove.” 

The man flew into a door and then just lay here. “It was only then I saw that he had a knife, which I hadn’t known earlier, because then I might have acted differently,” he said. 

“I’m livid now,” he went on. “This is the world’s most unique political week, a people’s festival where you can meet politicians and celebrities and everyone says ‘hi’, where there are journalists and everything. And this nutter goes and wrecks it all.” 

“I’m quite proud of myself,” he admitted. “I was never afraid. I’m afraid now for the woman who got stabbed.”

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