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Swedish Riots – Is Religion a reason enough to spread hatred?

Swedish Riots
Source – Social Media

The year 2020 could very well be written in the book of Guinness World Records as the worst year mankind has witnessed. From the Australian forest fire to the novel COVID Pandemic the world has seen many obscure events take place that one could have never imagined. In this great year of tragedy and misfortune, another such incident that shook the world was the Swedish Riots which broke loose in the city of Malmö. The news of these riots ironically spread like a forest fire. Leading news channels all over the world were broadcasting the horrifying event which took place. Objects were set on fire; rocks were thrown on the police force deployed to control the situation. The peaceful country of Sweden was shocked to its core on the evening of August 28, 2020. 

Why did the Swedish Riots occur?

Before plunging into the actual incident that took place on August 28th, we must first learn a little about the political issue which instigated the Muslim population of Sweden to come on the roads and start rioting. 

The person of interest, in this case, is Mr. Rasmus Paludan, a Danish politician. Rasmus Paludan, a lawyer by profession is the leader of a political party named Hard Line. This party is known to be a far-right political party. An immigrant himself, Rasmus, and his party often express strong extremist views on Islam and the immigration of non-western people in the Nordic countries. Rasmus has earlier been convicted under Clause § 266b of the Danish Penal Code for expressing racist views. He was found guilty of all the charges and awarded a three-month prison term, his license to practice law stands suspended for three years, meaning he cannot practice as a lawyer for the next three years; further, he also lost his driving license for a period of a year. 

Connecting Rasmus Paludan and the Swedish Riots

Rasmus Paludan is the one because of whom the Swedish riots ensued. One must ask how? To answer this question, we must look into the events preceding the Swedish riots. On the 26th of August 2020, the Swedish police denied Rasmus Paludan permission to conduct a meeting which was titled ‘Islamization in Nordic Countries‘. In continuation to this, on 28th August 2020, he was banned from entering Sweden and was deported back to Denmark. This led to unrest amongst his followers.

Though Rasmus Paludan was deported, his followers went ahead with the event as it was originally planned, and to portray their discontent and support for Rasmus Paludan burnt a Qur’an in Rosengard. Rosengard is characteristically an immigrant dominated area and this upset the people residing there. 

Now, the situation that arose due to this act was of no surprise to anyone. From ages, religion has been at the core of human foundations. The act of burning the holy book of any religion would lead to an outcry and be seen as a direct act of insulting the people belonging to that religion. Many people have questioned, would people from other religions react in the same way as the Muslims did? Would the method used by Muslims not be used by people of any other religion? 

Swedish Riots
Source – Social Media

On one hand, we have people who would say that Islam preaches violence. Some have even compared the situation in Sweden to that in India and written statements such as Sweden does not have NRC, Sweden does not have CAA but it is still burning; it is not the country; it is the people of a certain religion which incite hate and violence. On the other hand, there are people who either say that all religions should be respected and one must see to it that people do not disrespect the beliefs of others or some say that it isn’t the Muslims, people belonging to any religion would react the same if their religion is insulted. Be it Christianity or Islamic religion, we are aware of their extensive history, be it good or bad. So, the truth is, who can really point a finger at whom?

To see it in a practical light, if this were a case between the two religions the court would have never heard either of them. Remember the basic principle of equity, he who comes to the court must come with clean hands. So, who is to blame and who isn’t, is a question one can argue for an eternity and still be in the exact same spot where they started?

Before we get into the Swedish riots, we must first gain some knowledge on the religious believes practiced in Islam, one which is pertinent to this case. 

Quran Desecration

The term Quran Desecration means insulting the Quran. The Quran is believed to be the words of the god himself. To insult the Quran voluntarily is an act of blasphemy in the eyes of a Muslim.

Traditional schools of Islamic law require wudu; which means a ritual washing. Before a Muslim touches the Quran, they must get themselves clean. They must treat their book with high regard or respect, even if it is a copy of the book. Disposition of the holy Quran is also of concern to the Muslims. Though the process of disposal has not been mentioned anywhere, they generally tend to wrap it in a cloth and bury it in the ground so that it is not trampled over and would in no situation encounter anything considered to be impure. 

One can see how the Quran holds their faith and how careful the Muslims are with their holy book. It explains why an act such as the burning of the Quran is being taken so seriously. 

Riots breaking out

The act of setting fire to the Holy Quran did not only lead to the burning of the Quran but the burning of the city of Rosengard. In retaliation to the burning of the Quran, a demonstration was organized to the south of the Rosengard Centrum Shopping Centre. About 300 people gathered there at 7:00 pm and protested the Quran desecration. The protest soon turned violent.

The protesters threw rocks and chunks of concrete on the police force sent to control the situation, they smashed bus shelters, overturned lamp posts, and also ended up burning objects,  lighting the place on fire. The riots went on till 3 am that day and the unrest continued the following day too. Multiple incidents of arson were reported in areas of Rosengard, Bellevuegarden, rådmansvången and Solbacken districts. It was reported that the  Gullviskolan school, as a result of arson, was severely damaged. In furtherance to this, 3 people were arrested as they were caught with bottles containing flammable liquid which was suspected to be used on police officers or rescue services that were present in the area. 

The riots also spread to Ronneby the day following the Malmö riots. Some 20 people were involved in public violence in that area. They set fire to tires and threw rocks at rescue service and police officers. About 3 people were arrested for rioting violently. According to an eyewitness, these protesters tried to set fire to a church however, failing when a passer-by with his jacket put out the fire, it is said that on seeing this, the rioters attacked the person, leaving him critically wounded. 

Conclusion

In the aftermath of the Swedish riots, 15 individuals were arrested and several police officers were injured. A situation that no one in their wildest dreams had thought would turn out so bad had become a reality. The question we should all ask, is, was it really necessary? Was it necessary to burn a holy book because a political leader was stopped from entering a country to avoid a hate crime?  Was it necessary for the people to retaliate in such a violent way? 

Have we as humans forgotten the way of peace? Have we as humans forgotten that humanity originates from right within us? 

We all have our faith, some believe in God, some believe in nature, some believe in cosmic power and some believe in vibes. Faith is supposed to act as a binding glue to our society, not a knife used to hurt somebody. Someone has said, humans have long forgotten that the basis of all religions is the same, peace, love, and equity. All religions teach us to love every living thing, live in peace, and respect nature and everything in it.

So, when we do follow our religions so faithfully, why have we forgotten the basis of it? To answer the question posed right at the beginning, is religion a reason enough to spread hate?  No, it should not be, but it is, the burning cities of Malmö and Ronneby are a living example of it and sadly this is the reality we all live in.


Editor’s Note
The author in this article gives us a glimpse into the Swedish riots and what instigated the riot. The author analyses the role of religion and also questions the burning of the Quran and the violence that took place due to it. The author concludes that faith shouldn’t be reason enough to instigate violence nor should there be a public display of hatred towards any religion.

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