CAIRO - Rejecting their hate message, a huge number of anti-racist activists have rallied against members of a Swedish anti-Muslim nationalist group, sparking clashes in the southern Sweden city of MalmÃ¶, The Local reported on Sunday, March 24.
"There were angry skirmishes after the anti-racists marched from MÃ¶llevÃ¥ngstorget square to the Stortorget square around noon, a lot of people seemed ready for a fight," said The Local's Patrick Reilly from the scene.
"They were pushing over barricades, setting off flares and some threw bottles, and went up against the police," he said.
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"There was also the odd snowball tossed at police."
Racist anti-Muslim group Swedish Defence League (SDL) had called for a rally in MalmÃ¶ on Saturday.
News reports said only about 20 SDL members were present.
The SDL were waving a Swedish flag on their way to the square and gave the counter-demonstrators the finger, Reilly said.
Rejecting their message, more 600 counter-demonstrators showed up, the news agency TT reported.
Some demonstrators used a Eurovision awning on the square to beat out a rhythm, chanting "No racist on our streets".
One banner hoisted above the march read "No Breivik Soldiers on our streets," according to the TT news agency.
The SDL is a sister group of the anti-Muslim English Defense League (EDL) and was set up in 2012.
In August 2012, SDL invited the EDL to Sweden for anti-Islam rally.
The EDL was cited in the writings of Norwegian terrorist Anders Breving Breivik. He himself claimed he had "close ties" to the EDL and he had 600 EDL members as Facebook friends.
Muslims make up some 200,000 of the country's 9.5 million population, according to semi-official estimates.
But leaders of the Muslim minority put the number at 400,000.
Trying to defuse clashes, mounted police, police dogs and helicopters were part of the security measures.
"The police said they were prepared because there was a lot of talk on Facebook and Twitter before hand," Reilly said.
The rally was called off as counter demonstrators clashed with mounted police.
Across Europe, far-right politicians have accelerated their rhetoric against Muslim minorities in recent years.
In Britain, far-right groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls Islamic extremism in Britain.
In the Netherlands, far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders called for banning the Muslim face-veil in the Netherlands and stopping immigration from Muslim countries.
In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats unveiled plans to impose a moratorium on building new mosques in the Scandinavian country.
New groups were also appearing in Denmark after English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon held the inaugural meeting of a Europe-wide network of defense leagues in Oslo two weeks ago.
Another group, Women Against Islamization, was founded in Belgium last month whose launch was addressed by Jackie Cook, the wife of BNP leader Nick Griffin.
US neo-conservative and evangelical groups were also beginning to share resources with the leagues as images of EDL demonstrations were already used at Tea Party movement fundraising.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net