When it comes to Muslims, many Swedes do not agree with their government's tolerant policies. The more they see of Muslims the less they like them. The specifically anti-immigrant "Sweden Democrats" party gets around a third of the vote in national elections
Sweden has arrested more than 40 people after clashes between police and protesters rallying against plans by a far-right group to burn copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, police said on Monday.
Eight people were arrested in the city of Norrkoping and 18 people were detained in the neighbouring city of Linkoping, police said in a statement.
Protests have turned violent in several cities since Thursday, leaving 26 police officers and 14 civilians injured, police said at a press conference on Monday.
The unrest has been sparked by the leader of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam group Hard Line, the Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan who is aiming to drum up support ahead of September elections.
Paludan, a lawyer and a YouTuber who intends to stand in Swedish legislative elections in September but does not yet have the necessary number of signatures to secure his candidature, is currently on a “tour” of Sweden.
The 40-year-old is visiting neighbourhoods with large Muslim populations where he wants to burn copies of the Muslim holy book Quran as Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan.
In Malmo, where he burned a Quran on Saturday, fire erupted in a school overnight, officials said.
“Criminals have profited from the situation to show violence toward society, without any link to the demonstrations,” national police chief Anders Thornberg said at a press conference 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,” he said, asking for more resources for the police.
As protesters burned cars and lobbed rocks at the police in Sunday clashes, officers responded, head of police special forces Jonas Hysing said.
“Some 200 participants were violent and the police had to respond with arms in legitimate self-defence,” he said.
Police had earlier said officers wounded three people after firing warning shots during Sunday’s “riot”.
On Thursday and Friday, around 12 police officers were injured in the clashes. In the wake of the string of incidents, Iraq’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that it had summoned the Swedish charge d’affairs in Baghdad.
It warned that the affair could have “serious repercussions” on “relations between Sweden and Muslims in general, both Muslim and Arab countries and Muslim communities in Europe”.
Saudi Arabia has condemned what it called the “deliberate abuse of the holy Koran by some extremists in Sweden, and provocation and incitement against Muslims”.
Iran and Iraq earlier summoned the Swedish ambassadors to lodge protests.
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