Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm. In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police. It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.
Last night, rioters attacked the police station in the Jakosberg area in the northwest of the city and set fire to 30 cars. Groups of youths also smashed shop windows and burned down a 19th Century cultural centre. Gangs of up to 60 set fire to a school and a nursery and hurled rocks at police and firefighters.
The unrest appears to have been sparked by the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby on Sunday, which prompted accusations of police brutality.
Clutching a bloodied meat cleaver after executing a soldier on a crowded street, he delivers a chilling message of hate. ‘You people will never be safe,’ he declares in a clear south London accent. ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’
In broad daylight, he and an accomplice had just repeatedly stabbed and tried to behead an off-duty soldier in front of dozens of passers-by. Throughout the frenzied attack they shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ – Arabic for ‘God is great’ – then demanded horrified witnesses film them as they ranted over the crumpled body.
The two black men in their 20s, waited calmly for armed police to arrive before charging at officers brandishing a rusty revolver, knives and meat cleavers.
Well, at least they didn’t go after any of the regular townspeople. Civilized butchers. How very British.
Now, I’m not saying that these two incidents have anything in common, or that they are at all similar. But I’m not not saying that, either.