Sweden riots 2022: unrest in Norrkoping over plans to burn Quran explained - who is politician Rasmus Paludan?

A protester kicks a tear gas canister at Rosengard in Malmo on April 17, 2022 (Photo: JOHAN NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)A protester kicks a tear gas canister at Rosengard in Malmo on April 17, 2022 (Photo: JOHAN NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)
A protester kicks a tear gas canister at Rosengard in Malmo on April 17, 2022 (Photo: JOHAN NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images) | TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Ima
Party leader Rasmus Paludan has been banned from France and Belgium in the past over plans to burn the Quran

Unrest has broken out in southern Sweden due to planned rallies held by the far-right, anti-Islam group Hard Line (Stram Kurs in Sweden), lead by Rasmus Paludan.

This is what you need to know about what’s going on in Sweden, what the Stram Kurs party is about, and who leader Rasmus Paludan is.

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What happened - were people injured?

Police said they fired warning shots during a riot to disperse protesters angry about demonstrations over the past several days by Stram Kurs. Three people were slightly injured during the clashes.

A crowd of about 150 people threw stones at officers and police vehicles, and set fire to cars.

Police said they responded by firing warning shots and “three people seem to have been hit by ricochets” and were taken to hospital in Norrkoping, which has around 130,000 residents and is about 100 miles south west of Stockholm.

Burning cars are pictured on April 18, 2022 near Rosengard in Malmo (Photo: JOHAN NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)Burning cars are pictured on April 18, 2022 near Rosengard in Malmo (Photo: JOHAN NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)
Burning cars are pictured on April 18, 2022 near Rosengard in Malmo (Photo: JOHAN NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images) | TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Ima

“All three injured are arrested on suspicion of crime,” police said, adding that none of them had serious injuries.

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The riot broke out following Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan’s meetings and demonstrations planned in various Swedish cities and towns since Thursday.

Paludan and his Stram Kurs party had planned a demonstration in Norrkoping on Sunday but he never showed up in the city, Swedish media reported. Unrest was also reported in the nearby city of Linkoping.

Paludan said on the Stram Kurs’ Facebook page that he decided to cancel Sunday’s demonstrations in the two locations as the Swedish authorities in the region had “shown that they are completely incapable of protecting themselves and me.

“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”.

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Riot police pass a barricade to enter a shopping centre during rioting in Norrkoping, Sweden on April 17, 2022 (Photo: STEFAN JERREVANG/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)Riot police pass a barricade to enter a shopping centre during rioting in Norrkoping, Sweden on April 17, 2022 (Photo: STEFAN JERREVANG/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)
Riot police pass a barricade to enter a shopping centre during rioting in Norrkoping, Sweden on April 17, 2022 (Photo: STEFAN JERREVANG/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images) | TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Ima

Apart from Norrkoping and Linkoping, unrest and violent clashes have been reported in Stockholm, Orebro, Landskrona and Malmo – Sweden’s third-largest city, in the past three days.

On Friday evening, violent clashes between demonstrators and counter-protesters erupted in the central city of Orebro, leaving 12 police officers injured and four police vehicles set ablaze.

In Landskrona, southern Sweden, a few hundred mostly young people threw stones and set cars, tyres and dustbins on fire. They also erected a barrier fence that obstructed traffic on Saturday evening.

Similar unrest took place in nearby Malmo, where a city bus was set on fire, among other things, late on Saturday.

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Was Ramus Paludan going to burn the Quran?

During the demonstrations that had been planned around Sweden, Paludan and his Stram Kurs party planned to burn the Quran, which is the holy book for Muslims.

Paludan had posted on Facebook that it was “time to burn a lot of Quran” and that the party would “bring pork blood too as we pour over the Quran”. The pork blood refers to the fact that the consumption of pork is forbidden for Muslims.

The Stram Kurs party leader has burned the Quran in the past. In April 2019, Paludan held a demonstration in Denmark which resulted in 100 counter protesters.

Counter-protesters throw stones in the park Sveaparken in Orebro, south-centre Sweden on April 15, 2022, where Danish far-right party Stram Kurs had permission for a square meeting on Good Friday (Photo: KICKI NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)Counter-protesters throw stones in the park Sveaparken in Orebro, south-centre Sweden on April 15, 2022, where Danish far-right party Stram Kurs had permission for a square meeting on Good Friday (Photo: KICKI NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)
Counter-protesters throw stones in the park Sveaparken in Orebro, south-centre Sweden on April 15, 2022, where Danish far-right party Stram Kurs had permission for a square meeting on Good Friday (Photo: KICKI NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images) | TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Ima

In August 2020, Paludan was banned from entering Sweden for two years over plans to burn the Quran in Malmo, however he was granted Swedish citizenship due to his father’s Swedish citizenship.

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Paludan and his party were banned from Belgium for a year in 2020 over their plans to burn the Quran in an area of Brussels largely occupied by Muslims.

At the time, the Secretary of State for Asylum Sammy Mahdi described the group as “a serious threat to public order”.

Paludan was also expelled from France around the same time for his intentions to burn the Quran in Paris.

Who is Rasmus Paludan?

Rasmus Paludan is a Danish-Swedish politician and lawyer who is the leader of the Stram Kurs, or Hard Line, a far-right political party he founded in 2017.

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The Hard Line party is an anti-Islam group whose foundations are that of “ethnonationalism”. Paludan says that a person has to have at least two grandparents who have Danish origins in order to “prove” that you are Danish.

In a video from December 2018, Paludan was captured saying: “The enemy is Islam and Muslims. The best thing would be if there were not a single Muslim left on this earth.

“Then we would have reached our final goal.”

Rasmus Paludan is the leader of Danish right wing party, Stram Kurs (Photo: HENNING BAGGER/AFP via Getty Images)Rasmus Paludan is the leader of Danish right wing party, Stram Kurs (Photo: HENNING BAGGER/AFP via Getty Images)
Rasmus Paludan is the leader of Danish right wing party, Stram Kurs (Photo: HENNING BAGGER/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

In June 2020, Paludan was given a month in jail over a string of offences, including racism. He was also disbarred for three years and given a fine of 40,000 Danish crowns.

He had initially been sentenced to 14 days of conditional imprisonment in 2019 for racist speech and was then issued two additional months of suspended sentence after he was found guilty of 14 different accounts of racism, defamation and dangerous driving.

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In 2013, Paludan was issued a five year restraining order from a 24-year-old man whom he had been stalking since 2010, which is when Paludan and the man in question had both started at the University of Copenhagen.

Paludan continued to harass the man until December 2013, despite his restraining order, and in 2015 he was fined for offending the officer who had handled the case.

In 2021, an investigation by Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet revealed that, through the chat platform Discord, Paludan had been communicating sexually with underage boys, aged between 13 and 17.

Paludan didn’t actually deny these claims, however he did deny any wrongdoings.

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