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Quran-burning rally in Sweden induces violent protests

By- Ankita Mohanty

Far-right activists burned a Quran in the southern Swedish city of Malmo on Friday, inciting severe protests and violence. Around 300 people had gathered to protest against anti-Islam activities.

The riot sparked when a group of right-wing extremists gathered on the streets of Malmo and set fire to a copy of the Quran. The rally was to be attended by Rasmus Paludan, a far-right Danish politician who leads the anti-immigration party Hard-Line also called Stram Kurs.

The rally quickly turned into violent protests which the police had a difficult time handling, as reported the local bodies. The anti-Muslim politician was later barred from joining gathering, prompting further vehemence between the clashing groups. Dissenters allegedly threw stones at police and burned tyres on the streets of Malmo, resulting in the prompt arrest of 10 protestors.

Between 10 and 20 protesters were arrested late Friday and "have all been released," police spokesman Patric Fors told AFP. The protests had fairly subsided the next morning. Authorities had pre-empted Rasmus's arrival by declaring that he has been banned from entering Sweden for 2 years.

He was later arrested near Malmo.

Paldan has since put forward his statement on Facebook that says, “Sent back and banned from Sweden for two years. However, rapists and murderers are always welcome.”

Last year Rasmus was in headlines for burning a Quran which was wrapped in bacon- meat that is anathema for Muslims.

For decades Sweden and Denmark have been one of those countries in Europe that’s politically stable and fairly democratic. But over the years they have seen a rise in communalism in politics especially during the migration crisis in Europe that started in earnest in 2015. Issues such as immigration, race, integration, crime, religion, social welfare, and discrimination, etc, have since been at the forefront of political discussions in these countries.

An Al Jazeera report from 2019 indicated that anti-Muslim extremism has become more severe in Denmark over the past few years, and far-right parties like Paludan’s Hard-Line and their rhetoric have contributed to this.

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