Riots against Koran-burning in Sweden

In Sweden, heavy riots over the Easter weekend left several people injured and caused considerable damage to property. They were triggered by Koran-burning rallies held by the far-right and Islamophobic politician Rasmus Paludan and his supporters. Commentators discuss very different approaches to prevent such incidents from happening again.

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Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Integration is crucial

Ilta-Sanomat looks at the lessons Finland can learn from the riots:

“It is important to understand that Finland and Sweden pursue very different immigration policies. Sweden has far more immigrants, and in many places they are concentrated in their own neighbourhoods. ... The problems that caused the riots are complex. They also involve people who are out to disrupt the functioning of organised society as a matter of principle. But if there is a lesson to be learned from the Swedish situation, it is the importance of properly integrating immigrants into society.”

Expressen (SE) /

Blasphemy law would be a double-edged sword

After the riots some people are calling for a blasphemy law to make it illegal to burn the Koran. Expressen dismisses the idea:

“Blasphemy laws are a dangerous instrument when it comes to protecting the rights of a minority. The pattern is clear. Such laws are generally used by the majority against a minority - whether it be LGBTQ activists in Poland, Hindus in Pakistan, or atheists in Nigeria. This explains why human rights organisations like Amnesty International, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders have spent so long fighting blasphemy laws. May Swedish politicians listen to them and not the prohibitionists.”

Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

The police must be better equipped

To be in a position to contain riots quickly, the police needs to be better equipped, the conservative paper Göteborgs-Posten demands:

“Conservatives and liberals propose that the police be given access to water cannons. Other options would be to equip them with electric pistols and rubber bullets. The goal is to suppress a riot without having to shoot live ammunition, which carries the risk of worse injuries and fatalities. There must be other options on the scale between batons and pistols. Unfortunately, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson has rejected all such proposals. ... This is unacceptable. The Swedish police and citizens must be able to trust the government to take threats to society very seriously.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Motives are not important

Aftonbladet calls for justice to be done:

“In fact it doesn't much matter whether the demonstrators' motives were disgust with right-wing extremism, hatred of the police or outrage over blasphemy. What happened is unacceptable in every respect. ... The main priority now, however, is that the judicial system reacts exactly as it should. Threats to democracy must not be tolerated. Criminals must be identified and linked to their crimes, and tried and punished according to the applicable laws. This is more important now than political squabbles.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

High time to take action

Svenska Dagbladet sounds the alarm about the state of Swedish society:

“The Easter riots point to parallel norm structures and lawlessness in our segregated suburbs, which can turn in the blink of an eye into ruthless violence against police, ambulances and ordinary fellow citizens. And this is happening at the same time as news is rolling in of new gunshot wounds and deaths in the ongoing gang wars. All this testifies to a dire situation in and around our segregated areas. No other domestic issue has higher priority than this one.”