Swedish far-right activists burn and desecrate Quran, sparking riots

The Quran. Editorial credit: Muhammad afiq abdul patah /

Far-right activists have burned the Quran in Malmo, Sweden, sparking riots in the Rosengard district. 

The unrest started on Friday when a group of activists linked to Danish politician Rasmus Paludan’s far-right party “Hard Line” posted a video of themselves burning a copy of the Quran in Malmo.

The Islamic holy book was also kicked around on the ground in the Stortorget Square in central Malmo.

This desecration sparked rock throwing at the police and other violent incidents leading to the arrest of around a dozen young men, as well as six people who were seized on suspicion of agitation against ethnic groups.

The violence saw over 300 rioters smashing bus shelters, overturning lampposts, destroying billboards and pelting the police with stones and tyres.

Police had earlier on Friday stopped Paludan himself on the Danish/Swedish border and banned him from entering Sweden for two years.

He later put up a message on Facebook. “Sent back and banned from Sweden for two years. However, rapists and murderers are always welcome!” he wrote.

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Paludan has been convicted of expressing racist views in his home country and in June 2019 was sentenced to a three-month prison term. His party represents strong extremist views on Islam and non-western immigration.

The tension in Malmo petered out over the weekend after residents took to the streets with police and religious representatives to promote a calmer approach.

Staff from Malmo municipality and residents spent Saturday and Sunday clearing up some of the destruction left behind by the riots.

More police officers from other parts of Sweden were called in to patrol the streets of Malmo following the unrest on Friday, and police said that local residents in the area had contributed to bringing about a more peaceful mood.

Police told Swedish media that Saturday night had been calmer than Friday, and Sunday even more so.

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