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Riots break out in Sweden as 300 people gather to protest against far-Right activists

Riots have broken out in Sweden tonight as hundreds of people gather to protest the actions of far-Right activists who had earlier set fire to the Koran.

Dramatic pictures show tyres being burnt in the street and a large plume of smoke rising above Malmo, in the south of the Scandinavian country.

Crowds of protesters, of which there are thought to be around 300, reportedly threw rocks at police as they tried to ease tensions.

Earlier in the day, right-wing extremists had burnt the Koran following the arrest of the leader of a far-Right Danish political party was arrested ahead of a planned meeting in the town.

Police in Malmo have said in a statement that they are attempting to bring the riot under control. 

A spokesperson said: ‘We don’t have this under control but we are working actively to take control. 

‘We see a connection between what is happening now and what happened earlier today.’

The demonstrations had escalated in the same place where the Koran had been burned, the spokesperson added.

According to reports in national newspaper the Daily Aftonbladet, three men had earlier been seen kicking a copy of the Koran, the central religious text of Islam, around a public square during anti-Islam protests earlier in the day. 

The anti-Islam protests were sparked after Rasmus Paludan, leader of Danish far-right political party Hard Line, had been denied permission to have a meeting in Malmo and was stopped at the Swedish border, according to the newspaper.

Mr Paludan, who is known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, had been banned from Sweden for two years, authorities said Friday.

Calle Persson, spokesperson for the police in Malmo, said the force suspected Mr Paludan was ‘going to break the law in Sweden’. 

‘There was also a risk that his behaviour… would pose a threat to society,’ he added.

Paludan was arrested on Friday near Malmo, where he was supposed to take part in an anti-Muslim rally where he had asked people to burn the Koran. 

However Paludan’s arrest sparked supporters to stage rallies. During the rallies, the Koran was burnt. Three people were arrested for inciting racial hatred.

Paludan, a lawyer who last year sparked controversy when he burnt a Koran surrounded by bacon, a meat which is deemed unclean by Muslims, later put up a scathing message on Facebook.

He wrote: ‘Sent back and banned from Sweden for two years. However, rapists and murderers are always welcome.’

According a report by the European Network of Equality Bodies (EQUINET) last year, the number of incidents of racist and xenophobic hate speech have been rising in Sweden over recent years, in particular in the context of large-scale arrivals of migrants and refugees.

The report says the rise comes despite of serious efforts by the Swedish authorities to prevent such hate speech.  

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