Nine Police Injured During Protests Over Controversial Quran-Burning by Rasmus Paludan in Sweden
© AP Photo / Matt RourkeSyrian refugee, who agreed to be photograph on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation against family living in Syria, opens her Quran, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015
© AP Photo / Matt Rourke
A riot in the Swedish city of Linköping on Thursday erupted in connection with a planned public Quran-burning by provocative Swedish-Danish politician and self-styled Islam critic Rasmus Paludan, who had received permission for the event.
Nine police officers sustained non-life threatening injuries on 15 April after protesters demonstrating against a controversial Quran-torching event in Orebro, central Sweden, clashed with police, reported Aftonbladet.
Injuries included "broken arms and police officers who have been hit by stones", police spokesperson Diana Qudhaib was cited as saying. A member of the public was also said to have been hit by a stone to the head in the unrest, which involved around 200 people and was dispersed towards evening, according to local media.
Friday was the second consecutive day of clashes sparked by the Quran-burning that Danish-Swedish politician, Rasmus Paludan, leader of the hardline anti-immigration movement Stram Kurs (Hard Line), had been granted permission for.
Paludan is notorious for his seemingly provocative demonstrations against Islam in Denmark, and, subsequently, in Sweden, filmed and released as videos and often featuring desecration of Islam's centrepiece – the Quran.
The Swedish city of Linköping, on Sweden's east coast, spiralled into mayhem on Thursday ahead of the Quran-burning, as enraged local Muslims and the police clashed. Videos from the scene, posted on social media, showed men standing on the roof of police cars and shouting “Allahu akbar”.
Three police officers were rushed to hospital, while two people were arrested. The riot subsequently spread to the city of Norrköping, involving hundreds of participants. According to newspaper Norrköpings Tidningar, the situation “derailed completely”.
Meanwhile, Rasmus Paludan, accompanied by police, went to an open public space in southern Linkoping on Thursday, placed the Muslim holy book down and burned it.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson slammed the violence in comments to the TT news agency, saying:
"In Sweden, people are allowed to express their opinions, whether they are in good or bad taste, that is part of our democracy. No matter what you think, you must never resort to violence. We will never accept it".
She added that the current clashes were precisely the sort of reaction that Rasmus Paludan sought to trigger.
12 October 2020, 05:07 GMT
Paludan, who has a criminal conviction in Denmark for inciting racial hatred, was previously banned from entering Sweden for two years to prevent him from burning the Quran, which his party sees as a celebration of free speech. However, the ban was rendered invalid after his Swedish citizenship was confirmed by the Swedish Immigration Authority due to the nationality of one of his parents (father).
In light of numerous threats and assassination attempts, Paludan, who earlier suggested that Sweden's lenient immigration policy was a threat to Denmark and justified his activism, has been placed under constant police protection.