A day after the city of Malmo in Sweden witnessed riots caused by the burning of Islam's holy book Koran, this culture war moved to the neighboring Scandinavian country of Norway. This time also, violence broke out between anti-Islam activists and their ideological opponents. However, they did not degenerate to the extent that events in Malmo did.
This episode started with a gathering of people associated with the far-right Norwegian organization called Stop Islamisation of Norway (SIAN). They gathered in Norway's capital, outside the Parliament building to display their opposition to the Islamic faith. For around two hours, things seemed in control.
The leader of SIAN, Lars Thorsen, gave a speech that would be offensive to a devout Muslim. He described the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad as a false prophet. Apart from this, there were accompanying slogans and even some lighter types of activity like singing.
People opposed to this gathering and the criticism of Islam taking place had also gathered near the area of the demonstration but police had taken precautionary action and set up a barrier for preventing the two groups from coming into contact.
Outbreak of violence
But then, one woman, part of the SIAN protest, held up a copy of Koran and tore pages out of it, doing it in such a way that it would be visible to the people on the other side of the barricades. This provocation proved to be the ignition and the counter-protesters decided to become more aggressive.
The barricades were overcome by some of the pro-Islam demonstrators and they got into a physical altercation with SIAN members. This is when the danger of violence escalating became very high and the police acted strongly to end the clash. They used pepper spray to disperse the group of anti-SIAN people and pushed them back forcefully as they tried to break through the barriers.
At the end of it all, one person was reported to be injured. The police also arrested several others to make sure that no further trouble is created by them.
However, the events of Malmo and Sweden are merely symptoms of a larger societal and political problem facing Europe, not just Scandinavia. The influx of Muslim migrants over the decades has created social tensions which became seriously aggravated in recent years due to the growth of Islamic extremism.
The entire continent is seeing the growth of far-right parties whose main ideological plank is opposition to Islam and immigration of Muslims into their countries. These battles are only going to get worse in times to come.