“It seems that part of the Swedish population wants to submit to another system of ‘values'”

FIGAROVOX / INTERVIEW – Since Thursday, April 14, two cities southwest of Stockholm have witnessed clashes between police and rioters who came to protest against the anti-Islam “Hardline” movement. Swedish-born journalist Henrik Lindel solves the problem.

Henrik Lindel is a Swedish journalist, head of the community section of the weekly life.


Vigarophox. A week ago, Sweden was the scene of violent confrontations between police and rioters. They protested the arrival of a controversial figure in the country, the Danish-Swedish figure Rasmus Paludan, who set fire to the powder for allegedly burning the Koran. How do you view these events? what are their names?

Henry Lindell. – Before discussing the anti-Islam provocation by a fringe far-right politician who provoked the unrest, I think we must first emphasize the seriousness of the riots and their unequivocal condemnation by the entire class of politics. During the Easter holiday, Sweden has already experienced an unprecedented wave of urban violence, which has deeply shocked a large part of the Swedes, including Muslims, in this regard. For four days, in popular and often deprived neighborhoods, men, especially young men, as well as women and children, threw stones at police officers and even firefighters, set fire to vehicles of the regime forces and individuals, looted and assaulted. Against everything that represents power, even the system of society, in Sweden.

In Rosengård in Malmö, a school burned down. In Örebro, a medium-sized city 170 kilometers from Stockholm, rioters chased after the police, injuring dozens of them, before burning four police trucks and confiscating one of these imposing vehicles for a city tour! Everything was filmed and widely broadcast through social networks, often by the rioters themselves. In Norrköping and Linköping, two other medium-sized towns, gangs of young men have taken over many neighborhoods by intimidating the police and terrorizing other residents. According to a provisional report, 26 police officers and 12 pedestrians were injured, dozens of cars were burned, and collective property estimated at at least one million euros was destroyed. At the level of Sweden, that’s a lot.

In the eyes of many, this chaos reveals that the police can no longer enforce the rule of law in some neighborhoods.

Henrik Lindel

This insane violence has shocked Swedish society, the media and of course elected officials, including the social democratic government, much more than the fact that a fringe far-right politician comes to burn the Koran, which is legal in Sweden. In the eyes of many, this chaos reveals that the police can no longer enforce the rule of law in some neighborhoods. Moreover, no one was spared that all the unrest took place in densely populated neighborhoods of foreign origin and Islamic culture. And so the riots brought to light a part of the population that did not seem to want complete compliance with Swedish laws, but rather another “values” system.

One can, of course, see in this the integration problem and the result of the actual separation. Many wonder how Sweden has organized its generous immigration policy in recent decades. Sweden was for a long time a particularly homogeneous society on a cultural level, but today it is multicultural. More than 20% of the population is of immigrant origin and the majority of new arrivals are of non-European origin. The latter often have real problems adjusting to Swedish society, including culture. This phenomenon is well documented, especially as it partly explains the prevalence of criminal gangs, a real scourge in Sweden.

Now, it is all these issues that stand out in the eyes of the Swedish authorities and Swedes in general. Ce n’est pas la première fois qu’on assiste à des émeutes et à des scènes de violences dans certains quartiers, dans certaines banlieues, mais cette fois-ci elles ont atteint un niveau qui exige des réponses touchant m à l’ the society. I would also say that the real problem here is not a religious one, unlike what we seem to think of in France. The fact that Rasmus Palaudan came to burn the Koran obviously drew condemnation from Muslim organizations in Sweden, but it also overwhelmingly condemned the violence and riots. Moreover, I am not sure that many devout Muslims were involved in these acts. Not fooled.

On August 28, 2020, a riot actually erupted after a video was broadcast of two members of the same far-right group, burning a Quran in front of a mosque in Malmö: Rasmus Paludan was denied entry to Sweden and denied entry to Sweden. land for two years. How do we explain that this year he was able to make an “anti-Islam” tour in Sweden? Is this related to the very broad concept of freedom of expression in Sweden?

Rasmus Paludan has a complex relationship with the judicial and police authorities in Denmark and Sweden. He is regularly involved in inciting hatred. Long story short, two years ago, a 40-year-old Danish-born lawyer was virtually unacceptable in Sweden, but at the same time was recognized as a Swedish citizen, thanks to his Swedish father. Thus, he obtained the right to visit this country.

Then he simply announced that he would go to different cities to demonstrate and publicly burn the Qur’an. He also requested and received permission to commit this act.

Burning the Qur’an in the public square as part of a demonstration is an expression of an idea, even if it seems despicable.

Henrik Lindel

The legitimacy of its anti-Islam operation may seem surprising and shocking to the French, not just Muslims. But in Sweden, there has been no crime of blasphemy since 1970. Burning the Quran in a public square as part of a demonstration is considered an expression of an idea, even if it seems humiliating. Moreover, acts that Christians might consider blasphemous are frequent in Sweden and have never, to my knowledge, caused particular disturbances in public order. At the moment, even the left “cultural elites” in Sweden defend the official right to burn the Koran, in the name of the rule of law, because this is what seems to them at stake. prevent him On the other hand, many were surprised that the police did not intervene upstream to stop Baludan. The authorities can ban such demonstrations if they consider them to pose clear risks of disturbing public order or endangering others or, of course, if the act itself can be considered incitement to hatred of a group of people. For reasons beyond comprehension, the Swedish police considered that these risks were not sufficiently clear.

This time, Palaudan apparently burned the Qur’an in some places in Sweden, but not in all the cities where he was planning to do so, because security conditions no longer allow it. Because in some places, riots took place when Rasmus Palaudan did not appear.

Is Rasmus Paladan an anti-Islamist movement in Sweden and Denmark, or against Islam as a whole?

Rasmus Paludan is generally opposed to Islam, which he considers incompatible with Western democracy. He transfers this claim to the political realm. The party he founded in 2017, Stram Kurs (Hardline Line), belongs to a current that can be described as far-right with ethno-nationalism, without being overtly racist. According to the party statute, members must reject racism, Nazism, fascism and communism And Islam.

By engaging in what he knows is provocative, but officially legal, action against Muslims, he wants to riot to prove that Islam is insoluble in Western democracy.

Henrik Lindel

He ran for Denmark’s parliamentary elections in 2019, receiving 1.8% of the vote. He also plans to present his party in the general elections in Sweden in September this year. He says he wants to defend the culture of Danes and Swedes and the democracy that characterizes the two countries. By engaging in what he knows is provocative, but officially legal, action against Muslims, he wants to riot to prove that Islam is insoluble in Western democracy. However, again, and I insist, few pious Muslims fall into this trap. The subject of the riots he launched has nothing to do with this religion. It should also be noted that the main right-wing populist movements, in Sweden as in Denmark, have clearly distanced themselves from Baludan and his anti-Islamic provocations.

Swedish police consider that they were the main target of the riots. Has there been a general increase in violence in Sweden in recent years?

Yes, it is clear that the Swedish police are the preferred target of troublemakers. From this point of view, these events are similar to the French riots. But what particularly surprised the Swedish police was that they were victims not only of groups of young people – which happens regularly in Sweden – but also of stone-throwing women and children.

As for the development of violence in Sweden, it is difficult to say in general terms. I think most Swedes would say that society in general seems to them more violent, or less safe, than it used to be, and I certainly do. There has certainly been a marked increase in the number of gang shootings. This settlement of accounts resulted in only eighteen casualties during the first three months of the year, an unprecedented level. Sweden is said to have the highest rate of fatal shootings in Europe. The problem of violence is one of the political issues that has been in the spotlight for a long time in Sweden. The right-wing opposition systematically accuses the SPD (in power for eight years) of too much inaction and inaction, apparently not without reason. The Easter holiday provided this opposition with a new argument to use in light of the upcoming September 11th general elections.

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