HELSINKI (AP) — Police in Sweden say they are preparing for new violent clashes following riots that erupted between demonstrators and counter-protesters in the central city of Orebro on Friday ahead of an anti-Islam far-right group’s plan to burn a Quran there.
Kim Hild, spokeswoman for police in southern Sweden said that the police would not revoke permission for a planned demonstration by the Danish right-wing Stram Kurs party in the southern town of Landskrona on Saturday because the threshold for doing that is very high in Sweden, which values free speech.
The right of the protesters “to demonstrate and speak out weighs enormously heavily and it takes an incredible amount for this to be ignored,” Hild told Swedish news agency TT.
Police said, however, that the rally would be moved to another undisclosed location, according to TT. Stram Kurs’ leader Rasmus Paludan was also planning a Quran burning in Landskrona, the agency said.
Hild said police were preparing for the demonstration and possible violence with extra resources “given what has happened in recent days” in the Nordic country.
Two days of riots in various Swedish cities and towns, triggered by Stram Kurs’ demonstration, culminated in the violent clashes in Orebro late Friday that left 12 police officers injured and four police vehicles set on fire.
Video footage and photos from chaotic scenes in Orebro showed burning police cars and protesters throwing stones and other objects at police officers in riot gear.
Clashes were reported the past few days also in Stockholm and in the cities of Linkoping and Norrkoping — all locations where Stram Kurs either planned or had demonstrations.
Paludan, a Danish lawyer who also holds Swedish citizenship, set up Stram Kurs, or “Hard Line” in 2017. The website of the party, which runs on an anti-immigration and anti-Islam agenda says “Stram Kurs is the most patriotic political party in Denmark.”