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Swedish authorities detained 26 people following weekend riots over a plan by a far-right and anti-Islam Danish group to burn the Muslim holy book, the Quran, in a number of towns, the Local Sweden reported Monday.
Police said that at least 40 people were wounded, including 26 police officers. They added that around 200 participated in the riots and that some of the involved have links to criminal networks.
Unrest in various cities began Thursday when the Danish far-right “Stram Kurs” (Hard Line) movement organized a series of rallies in various cities with plans to burn copies of the Quran.
On Thursday and Friday, the party live-streamed video of its leader, Danish-Swedish extremist Rasmus Paludan, burning the Quran in different Swedish cities, according to the Washington Post.
Since then, protesters and counterprotesters clashed in cities, with police saying that vehicles, including a city bus and police cars, were set on fire.
Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson urged rioters to go home and denounced Paludan as a “right-wing extremist fool, whose only goal is to drive violence and divisions.” He also said that “Sweden is a democracy and in a democracy, fools also have freedom of speech.”
Paludan is planning to run in the Swedish legislative elections in September and is currently on a “tour” of Sweden, the Local added.
In 2020, Danish authorities sentenced him to three months in prison on charges of racism and defamation. His Stram Kurs group came close to entering Denmark’s legislature in 2019 but failed to gain any seats.
The far-right leader came to prominence in neighboring Denmark via anti-Islam protests in areas with large ethnic minority communities. The main feature of his demonstrations is the desecration and burning of the Quran.