In Sweden, at least 40 people were injured after violent riots erupted over the weekend. The rioting was triggered after a group planned on burning several copies of the Quran. Despite the unrest, the anti-immigration group Hard Line has vowed to burn more Muslim holy books.
Rioting broke out in several Swedish cities over the proposed move, law enforcement officials said Monday. Dozens of fires were started after police cars were set alight.
— Research Wing (@ResearchWing) April 17, 2022
At least 40 people were injured following the unrest, including 26 police officers and 14 civilians.
Officials in several Muslim countries condemned the burning of the Quran, which sparked the protests. Saudi Arabia’s official news agency said the kingdom has “condemned the agitations of certain extremists in Sweden and their provocations against Muslims”.
The Iraqi government summoned Sweden’s ambassador and warned that the Quran burnings could have “serious effects” on relations between the two countries. Turkey denounced “hesitation to prevent provocative and Islamophobic acts… under the cover of freedom of expression”.
Despite this, the anti-immigration group Hard Line has vowed to press on with Quran burnings.
Ahead of upcoming elections, Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan, the leader of Hard Line, has declared a “tour” of Sweden. He plans on visiting several cities with large Muslim populations with the intent of burning copies of the Quran during Ramadan.
Clashes with police have erupted during protests against the group since Thursday evening, starting in the cities Linkoping and Norrkoping. They later spread to the city of Malmo, which has a large Muslim population and “no go” zones, after Paludan burned a Quran on Saturday. A school was among the Malmo buildings set alight during a second night of unrest on Saturday.
Riots in Sweden:
– MusI¡ms rioting in Sweden in multiple cities in response to anti-lsIam rallies
– Today marks the 4th day of violence
– Riots are occurring in Orebro, Stockholm, Malmo, Linkoping and Norrkopingpic.twitter.com/pEFEjy5iVh
— Treeni (@_treeni) April 18, 2022
National Police Chief Anders Thornberg believes police officers were targeted by the rioters. “Criminals have profited from the situation to show violence toward society, without any link to the demonstrations,” Thornberg told reporters on Monday.
“There are too few of us. We have grown, but we have not grown at the same pace as the problems at the heart of society,” the police chief added in a call for more resources.
“Some 200 participants were violent and the police had to respond with arms in legitimate self-defense,” Thornberg continued.
A Pew Research document from 2017 estimated that there were around 810,000 Muslims in the country at the time, accounting for roughly 8.1% of the population.