Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rioting in Linköping, Sweden - parts of city sealed off

Sometimes you just wish, the police would stay out the way and let some people have at it (from The Local):

Around 100 people have been arrested after rioting broke out in Linköping during a neo-Nazi demonstration, police have said. One person was charged with intention to assault.

A large group of demonstrators from Anti Fascist Action (AFA) had also gathered in the town, 200 kilometres south of Stockholm, in response to the demonstration.

Riot police have been brought in from Stockholm and regular police from the neighbouring Sörmland and Jönköping counties. It was unclear at the time of writing whether police in Linköping would require further reinforcements.

At 1pm, a march which the National Socialist Front had permission to hold had not been able to start.

The neo-Nazis gathered in Borggården where the march was due to start."We have a large group of AFA activists 30-40 metres away from them, and we're trying to keep them apart," police spokeswoman Pia Thevselius told TT.

The neo-Nazis have permission to demonstrate, but AFA does not have authorisation.

The 100 or so activists that have been arrested were anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, Thevselius told news agency TT. They were taken by bus to Linköping's police headquarters.

Police in Linköping warned the general public to stay away from the town centre. .. At lunchtime on Saturday the situation was described as very tense.

"It is a very threatening situation now, and we're trying to control it," Thevselius told TT at 12.30. ..

Several streets in Linköping have been sealed off.

Maybe I should comment a bit on the background:

Sweden has for the last 70 years or so (with very short breaks) been ruled by the social democratic party, which has more or less merged with the establishment. Coupled with a somewhat authoritarian, moralistic and centralistic streak (Sweden is known as "Ban-Sweden" in Denmark), this has produced a climate in which all forms of actual rightwing dissent are subjected to merciless pressure - some schools even send home pupils wearing the swedish flag on their clothes, since its deemed "offensive".

Certain radical portions of the right have thus radicalized even further, producing a neo-nazi movement that is quite strong compared to the other countries in the region. At the same time, that has also meant that it has taken in some elements that would never end up as nazis in the rest of the world. An example: when three Swedish neo-nazis conducted a bank heist in May 1999, then ambushed and killed two policemen giving pursuit, one of the perpetrators turned out to be a mulatto - Jackie Arklöv:

Not your usual prime specimen of the arian übermensch. As an aside, Denmark has seen the same phenomenon - a nazi who in 1997 sent a series of letter bombs disguised as video cassettes to England turned out to be half japanese.

Anyway: the relative strength of the Swedish neo-nazis has its parallel on the other end of the political spectrum, where the radical left, thanks moral backing by the establishment, is also comparably strong for the region.

Thus the riots.



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