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SWEDEN RIOTS 2020: A VIOLENT REALITY

Author: Paikar Mustafa,Law Graduate 2019

Law College Dehradun, Uttarakhand


1.1 INTRODUCTION On 29th August 2020, a violent incident in Sweden made international news which was rather astonishing since the stature of Sweden is considered among the most peaceful nations in the world. The news reads as “Riots broke out in Sweden” and with the term Riot simpliciter it gave the general idea behind the cause of this massive violence would be some blasphemous act, religious sentiments links or communal conflicts as can be gauged from the pics that surfaced, broken properties, burnt and melancholy of destruction on the faces of people, was visible and as unfortunate as it is, the religious conflict intertwining its inception and fate with the politics was the main reason behind the eruption of riots in the country.

Continuing the subhead of the headlines it further reads as, “On Friday, Violence erupted in the Swedish City of Malmo were over 300 people had gathered and protested against anti-Islamic activities which turned into violent demonstrations”. Without reference to any particular news citing a source, these identical headlines were almost on every reporting site. Thus, making us aware of the reason why did riot occur and what was the cause? The Indian readers can relate to the news without a flinch and an iota of doubt and without a casual surprising response as the violence on communal lines involving all kind of hatred, blasphemy, etc all that it needs to catalyst a violent demonstration is more common news to hear, which takes the memory afresh to the Bangalore Violence erupted on 11 August 2020 with more or less the same cause as depicted in the international headline of Sweden riots.

1.2. HOW DID IT BEGIN?

There are two causes of these riots- one the immediate cause and second the long-standing one cumulating into this incident, none of which, however, justify the amount of violence incurred and the ensuing destruction of peace but to say the least, we’re very well planned and incited to have caused the same effect that occurred.

The immediate cause was the protests that began after a copy of the Quran was burned in Malmo by members of the Far-right Danish Party Stram Kurs. The Party President Rasmus Paldan was to hold a meeting taking up the issue “Islamization of the Nordic countries” for which he was denied the permission. He was invited by Swedish Artist Dan Park, who has a long history of inciting violence against ethnic groups. Thus, what could have turned out into a violent gathering otherwise had the permission been given to the Rasmus Paldan turned out exactly to be the violent gathering with, of course, the changed people summoning the havoc by setting an example against not letting an example to be set. In this tussle of imposing dominance, both sides won yet none of them.

The other cause which leads to the stirring of violence and the riots eventually is nothing but a political one since the words “far-right” “party” “leader” appearing in one sentence give a little insight over the issue as it could. To begin with, the controversy rise with the introduction of a name and following of masses towards it which is Rasmus Paludan, a Danish Politician and a lawyer who founded his far-right (ideological) party Stam Kurs in 2017 and has been actively apprehended in making videos and contents that are “anti-muslim” which he terms as the exercising of the free speech.

In June, Paludan was convicted on charges of racism for posting Anti-Islamic videos on his party’s social media channel resultantly, he was debarred from practicing law and sentenced to 14 days of conditional imprisonment. On account of recent developments, Paludan was banned from entering Sweden for two years.

Next comes inline the base of controversy which is the immigration issue. Since the war in the middle east has become time immemorial, the conflicts, the casualties, and the terror is affecting the whole world one way or another. Sweden is known for granting asylum and permanent residence permits to all Syrians in Sweden. The increasing influx of asylum seekers from war-torn countries has a significant impact on Swedish Politics.

It is but obvious to expect a change in demography by infusion of refugees who may not meet the expectation level of the local citizenry and thus, the migrant crisis is viewed in terms that they have put pressure on public resources and finances in the country while many of them not being skilled and efficient, passing their days to live by welfare means of the State. The issue is caught primarily by the Far-right and Right-wing Parties, claiming that the increase in crimes in Sweden is directly proportional to the influx of refugees. Since the refugees belong to the Muslim religion and with the tarnished image that propped up after 9/11 U.S. attacks and with the never-ending tendencies of Muslim-nations around the world to bring an end to the war, to the Syrian Crisis, the Palestinian crisis, etc. because of involvement of big players as the U.S, it was but natural development that refugee influx is seen as matter in anathema to the nationalistic view and national development.

1.3. DOES VIOLENCE JUSTIFY VIOLENCE?

One might say that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind is obsolete in contemporary times, that Gandhian principles of utmost non-violence would lead to self-degradation that they depart from the very natural instinct of the human nature but will unbreakable chain of asserting violence justify the ends? The answer is big no! What 300 protestors or rioters did in response to the extreme, harsh, and unspeakable act of burning the Quran only justifies the convictions, claims, and threat of the people that migrants indeed are cancer to the nations. It should be kept in mind that a large number of people who welcomed the immigrants, nurtured their feelings, and gave them away (including state authorities) should be made to see the utmost patience, tolerance, and respect for law in eyes of those who came bearing destruction as an impulsive response while none of them having the least notion of reverence for what they were defending (identity, religion or survival).

The State Authorities nevertheless took the matter at hand and made arrests of the people who were part of the gathering that burned the Quran. That they assured people on the other side to not indulge in any act of violence, and unfortunately their cars were burnt, they were thrown stones at, while doing their job of maintaining peace. The rioters played at the hands of their provocateurs who desired the same outcome as had happened. What did it prove, that the nationalistic demand of expelling immigrants holds the ground? Burning safe haven to defend your dogma even after pleas to maintain pleas dwindling to the indecipherable mumbles for the rioters. Unfortunately, there are people who can be seen supporting the stance of the violence as a power show against all who dare to indulge themselves in the blasphemous act, what does it cost? It costs the future of the prospective applicant migrant, innocent to their bones and flesh, future of several immigrants within the nations who would be seen as a target from now one, viewed from despicable vision as one potential rioter.

1.4. CONCLUSION

Seeing violence breaking out on religious or communal issues is most disheartening for any peace-loving person. We have seen several nations paralyzing to this cause (Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Afghanistan), etc. India, the most diverse yet unified nation, has been and is still going through phases where communal violence scars it’s unity. Only a Facebook post has the impetus to incite violence, the question being what’s the need of such a derogatory Facebook post linked to the same that what was the need of burning the Quran? The answer is to incite the violence, to provoke people, to bring about the desired and calculated effect of the act. While the fools feed on this fodder and burn the country under the garb of defending their honor!

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