Koran burnings in Sweden spark riots and police fire warning shots as vehicles torched

18 April 2022, 09:51

Riots broke out across Sweden
Riots broke out across Sweden. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Riots over a far-right politician's planned Koran burnings saw a crowd hurl stones at police and set fire to cars in Sweden.

Officers had to fire warning shots to disperse the roughly 150 protesters, who were furious at demonstrations by a Danish anti-Islam group.

Three people appear to have been hurt by ricochets and they were taken to a hospital in Norrkoping, about 100 miles south-west of Stockholm.

Police said the three were also arrested "on suspicion of crime" and none were seriously hurt.

The riots followed planned burnings of the Koran, Islam's holy book, and meetings by Rasmus Paludan, a far-right politician from Denmark.

He had intended to hold a demonstration in Norrkoping with his Stram Kurs party but did not turn up, it was reported.

Violent clashes between demonstrators and counter-protesters also broke out in Orebro on Friday evening, ahead of a planned Koran burning there. A dozen officers were injured and four police vehicles were set on fire.

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Mr Paludan said on the party's Facebook page that he decided against holding events in the city and nearby Linkoping, where unrest was also reported, because of the authorities being "completely incapable of protecting themselves and me".

He said: "If I was seriously injured or killed due to the inadequacy of the police authority, then it would be very sad for Swedes, Danes and other northerners."

Mr Paludan set up Stram Kurs, or "Hard Line", in 2017. The lawyer holds Swedish citizenship.

The party describes itself as Denmark's "most patriotic political party" and runs on an anti-immigration and anti-Islam platform.

Elsewhere, in Landskrona in southern Sweden, a few hundred people threw stones and set cars, tyres and bins on fire. They also created a makeshift barrier that blocked off traffic on Saturday evening.

Disorder also broke out in Malmo, where a city bus was set ablaze on that same day.