Police in the southern Norwegian city of Fredrikstad have decided to allow a Swedish neo-Nazi group to hold a demonstration against homosexuality this summer. The decision has upset local residents and government officials, and counter-demonstrations are already being planned.
“Paragraph 100 in our constitution, the right to express yourself, is so strong in Norway,” Inge Jensen of the Fredrikstad police told newspaper Dagsavisen. “At the police chief’s level, it’s been declared that demonstrations like this shall be allowed.”
Calls to ‘crush homosexuality’
Jensen said that police lawyers also had determined that the neo-Nazi group, called Den nordiske motstandsbevegelsen (The Nordic Resistance Movement), must be allowed to carry out the demonstration they applied to hold in Fredrikstad. No exact date was revealed. The group claims Norway has been occupied by a Jewish-Zionist conspirancy and that armed revolution is the only way to defeat it. They believe Adolph Hitler was a great politician and that the Holocaust is a lie. They want all people who are not of “Northern European or closely related races” to be deported from Norway and that homosexual practice be outlawed.
Jensen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the group had been told they would receive permission to march. The group is relatively small, made up of around 40 white Scandinavian men who wear dark trousers and white shirts with ties tucked into the shirts between buttons. They have said they intend to carry banners calling for the “homo-lobby” to be crushed.
It will be the first demonstation held by the group in Norway. Last year they were believed to be behind protests against a gay pride festival in Kristiansand. Members photographed those marching in the local gay pride parade, tore down their rainbow flags and hung up banners around the southwestern Norwegian city also calling on residents to Knus homo-lobbyen (Crush the homo lobby). They did not march or hold any organized demonstration, though.
Just before Easter, around 20 members of the neo-Nazi group appeared on the main street of Lillehammer, carrying the group’s flags and distributing pamphlets. Around half were Swedes and their presence set off strong reactions with a counter-demonstration against neo-Nazism held a few days later.
Several residents of Fredrikstad, including local politicians, have already announced plans to carry out a counter demonstration against the Nordic Resistance Movement. Mayor Jon-Ivar Nygård of the Labour Party had hoped the police would ban the march, “but we of course must accept that the police have evaluated this in accordance with the law. We will take the opportunity to show that the community in Fredrikstad has completely other values. This can come in the form of a dignified counter demonstration or gathering,” he told NRK.
Asked whether Nygård fears any confrontations, he said it was a concern, “but I feel secure that the police will be prepared to handle that.” Jensen of the Fredrikstad police said “we’re evaluating various scenarios and ways to handle this. Intelligence-gathering and charting the milieu are part of the preparations we’re making, and we’ll also have operative counter-measures if necessary. The police will be well-prepared,” she told Dagsavisen.