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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Swedish neo-Nazis spread local fear

A weekend demonstration organized by a Norwegian right-wing extremist group included many participants representing a similar group in Sweden. Police arrested 25 persons described as neo-Nazis, and fully 23 of them were from Sweden, raising fears that far-right Swedish organizations seek to spread their ideology across the border.

The demonstration in Trondheim on Saturday ended with several street fights and arrests. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that it was organized by a group called Den norske motstandsbevegelsen (The Norwegian Resistance Movement) with many demonstrators representing a similar Swedish group called Svenska Motståndsrörelsen.

Expert worried
Norwegian author Øyvind Strømmen, who follows right-wing extremism closely in Scandinavia, told Aftenposten that he’s worried about what kind of influence Swedish neo-Nazis have on extremist groups in Norway.

“The Norwegian ‘resistance movement’ is an offspring of the Swedish group,” Strømmen said. “The Swedish neo-Nazis seem to have a desire to build up a stronger neo-Nazi movement in Norway.”

The Swedish group has earlier claimed it seeks to create “a Nordic reich,” which the Norwegian group defines as a “new state including at least Norway and Sweden.” The Norwegian group was founded in 2010 and has been active in Trondheim for around a year.

‘Lower threshold for violence’
The group is cause for concern, according to Strømmen, because it’s inspired by the Swedish group “which has a much lower threshold for violence” and a controversial leader. “Norwegian neo-Nazis have had a lot of inspiration from Sweden,” he added. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more demonstrations with participants from Sweden.”

Norway’s police intelligence unit PST was careful in assessing the demonstration in Trondheim. “We can’t make any conclusions after this single event,” said PST senior adviser Siv Alsén. “We can therefore not make any concrete comments now. What we can say, is the compared with the rest of Europe, Norway has a small milieu of these types.”

PST has been criticized over its failure to become aware of attack preparations made by confessed right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who claims he killed 77 persons in Norway last year as part of his crusade to prevent Norway from becoming a multi-cultural society. PST nonetheless has reported in its latest threat evaluation that right-wing extremists are not very active in Norway.

PST noted, however, that tighter contact between Norwegian and foreign organizations could further radicalize some groups. Sweden’s security police unit Säpå, has said there are traditional ties between the groups in Sweden and Norway, but doesn’t think they pose a major threat.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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