During Easter, riots broke out in immigrant-dominated neighborhoods in several Swedish cities. The starting point was the subdivision of Skäggetorp in the city of Linköping, where Mr. Rasmus Paludan, a Danish-Swedish politician and critic of Islam, had planned a public burning of the Koran.
Violent clashes erupted between police and local residents, leaving several officers injured. Multiple police vehicles were seized by the rioters, plundered for uniforms and equipment, and set on fire.
Similar events unfolded in the neighboring city of Norrköping, where in the Navestad subdivision Mr. Paludan had been granted permission to perform another public Koran burning. Violent protests erupted, resulting in the destruction of several police vehicles and multiple injured officers.
When Mr. Paludan visited the large subdivision of Rinkeby in northwest Stockholm on Friday, he was met with protests. Later in the day, police canceled his planned event in the city of Örebro and immigrant-heavy Vivalla. However the location of Mr. Paludan’s activity was targeted by a large number of protesters, who threw fireworks and other projectiles at police.
Following the pattern from Linköping the day before, police evacuated its personnel and abandoned several of their vehicles. Before setting them on fire, rioters drove at least one of them around the city.
On Saturday, riots spread to the southern city of Landskrona, where Mr. Paludan was scheduled to hold his final event. At the last minute, police relocated his event to the outskirts of nearby Malmö. Riots erupted in both cities, with rioters using fireworks against police. As part of their response, police in Malmö requested material assistance from Danish police.
Protests again erupted in Linköping and Norrköping on Sunday. At one point in Norrköping, police opened fire on rioters, injuring three.
At a press conference on Monday, April 18th, National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg suggested that at least some of the riots were directed at the police, not Mr. Paludan. According to Mr. Thornberg, this indicates that many protesters were connected to organized crime. Commander of special police operations, Jonas Hysing, explained during the same press conference in some places where riots erupted, Mr. Paludan was not present and had no scheduled events.
Sven R. Larson is a political economist and author. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Roskilde University, Denmark. Originally from Sweden, he lives in America where for the past 16 years he has worked in politics and public policy. He has written several books, including Democracy or Socialism: The Fateful Question for America in 2024.