An act of desecration against the holy book of Islam, the Koran, caused rioting and fire in the Swedish town of Malmo late Friday night. The riots were sparked by the actions of members belonging to a far-right Danish political party who burned the scripture and recorded the event on video. The reaction to this incident was initially a protest which soon degenerated into violence and arson.
The protest by Muslims took place at one of the main roads in the city and involved, according to estimates, close to 300 people. These protestors gathered around 7:30 PM in the evening. However, things took a turn for the worse when some of them started setting fires to objects in the streets including cars.
This led to a response from the police and then, all hell broke loose. Protestors replied to the police's attempts to control the crowd by throwing stones and balls of fire at the cops. A fire broke out at a nearby parking facility and more acts of arson took place in the area.
"We have ongoing and violent riots right now that we have no control over," the spokesperson of police told a local media outlet. As of now, there is no information as to whether people have been injured or, if yes, how many.
Sweden has been a recipient of a large number of Muslim immigrants in recent years. There have been issues of law-and-order that the country has faced in relation to this new section of the nation's population. Conservative and right-wing voices have been denouncing the country for its leniency in allowing so many immigrants in.
The Danish political party whose members indulged in the burning of Koran is known as Stram Kurs, meaning 'Hard Line' in English. Its founder, Rasmus Paludan, is a well-known opponent of Islam, something he has in common with many other far-right leaders of Europe such as Geert Wilders of Netherlands and Marine Le Pen of France.
Three other members of the same party committed a similar act in another location of the city and were arrested. Paludan himself was on his way to Sweden but had a two-year ban on entering the country imposed upon him.
The Stram Kurs leader had himself sought permission to attend a Koran-burning event in Malmo but was denied. According to the court in Sweden which banned Paludan's entry, "Freedom of assembly and demonstration are constitutionally protected rights," but, it added, authorities can take action "for reasons of order and safety."