Activists on their way home from a demonstration in Malmö, southern Sweden on International Women’s Day were brutally beaten and stabbed by a group of neo-Nazis. One of the demonstrators, called Showan, is in a critical condition in hospital as a result of life-threatening injuries. The next day thousands were on the streets of seven different Swedish cities to protest against Nazi violence. More demonstrations followed and more are planned.
There is a serious escalation of nazi-style violence in Sweden. This time, the three arrested for attempted murder are members of the Swedes’ Party (SvP). In December, a group of 30 from the competing Sweden’s Resistance Movement (Smr) violently attacked an anti-racist demonstration in Kärrtorp, south Stockholm (see report http://www.socialistworld.net/print/6603).
The response then was the biggest anti-racist demonstration in Sweden ever - at least 20,000 strong on December 22. Altogether 43,000 people participated in anti-nazi/anti-racist demonstrations in 37 cities and towns across Sweden the following month.
Both of these attacks were politically motivated against those whom the neo-nazis regard as their main enemies - anti-racists, socialists, feminists.
December anti-racist wave
The strength of the anti-racist wave in December surprised almost everybody. In most places it was rank-and-file protests from below, expressing also a general dissatisfaction with the direction of politics and society. It caused a crisis among the neo-nazis themselves, with the SvP criticising the Smr of the attack and some defections taking place.
Even more, it has upset established right-wing media and politicians. After the mass demonstration on 22 December, a leading columnist in the daily ‘Expressen’ attacked it for having left-wing speeches and artists, and in particular, that a member of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden) was the speaker representing the network that organised the protest.
The establishment fears any independent movement from below. Their message is that countering nazism and racism is an issue for the police. At the same time, they take every opportunity to equate right-wing extremism (they usually avoid the word Nazis) and “left-wing extremism”. This is despite the fact that the neo-nazis in Sweden have murdered 30 people in Sweden since the mid-1980s.
Following the attack in December, the pressure from below has pushed back the attempt to blame “both sides”. After the attempted murder in Malmö, however, media and the police have again described the attack as “troubles” and “political violence” between activists left and right. But the facts show that the nazis were there looking for people to attack.
‘Dagens Nyheter’ said in their editorial on March 10: "Political violence in a democracy is always wrong. The dividing line is not between right and left but between those prone to violence and those who want to change society by democratic means". The editorial reduces Nazi violence to "political violence".
Liberals and established politicians condemn the anti-racist mobilisations, but they cannot suggest what the alternative is. As left-wing author and journalist Åsa Linderborg pointed out: “If the left does not organise the demonstrations, who will?”
After the attempted murder in Malmö, protests were organised immediately. In Malmö, 2,000 people came out the following day and in Stockholm a similar number. It was also clear that the more people become active, the more they see a clear link between the right-wing neo-liberal policies and the growing nazi violence.
Socialist approach gets strong response
Ammar Khorshed, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden), got a strong response to his speech at the Stockholm demonstration on 9 March, when he showed how right-wing policies and imperialism are directly responsible for the growth of racism and neo-fascism in Sweden and in Europe.
“The Nazis are not many, but last night’s attack in Malmö, the attack in Kärrtorp and other examples suggest that they feel stronger and increasingly move from words to action. Unfortunately racism is growing stronger - from the government’s criminalisation and stigmatisation of refugees, from the racist Sweden Democrats’ agitation against Muslims and immigrants, to acts of violence and murder by organised Nazis.
“The nazis do not act in a vacuum. The government’s neo-liberal policies are deepening inequality in society, opening the doors for the Sweden Democrats. And the Sweden Democrats’ electoral success opens the door for these nazis to go ahead with physical attack.
“There is a strong international connection,” he continued.“The Nazis also draw inspiration from other parts of Europe. It is no coincidence that Greece, the country where the policies of the right destroy people’s lives the most, is also the country where the nazi Golden Dawn has around 10 percent of voter support.
“The far right ‘Svoboda’ is part of Ukraine’s new government - that is applauded and supported by [Sweden’s foreign minister] Carl Bildt, the EU and the US. Svoboda is the sister party to the nazi organisation, the Swedes’ Party, which the perpetrators of last night’s attack belong to”.
One of the attackers from the SvP is Andreas Carlsson, newly returned from a tour in the Ukraine. There, he was inspired by how fascists have gained ground on the streets and in the Ukrainian government. Those lessons were put into practice in Malmö.
The anti-racist mobilisations and the willingness to act of tens of thousands of people shows that the rise of racism and fascism is not inevitable. What is now needed is a movement that continues and organises in schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods, linking the direct anti-fascist struggle to the fight against right-wing politics and for decent living conditions for everyone.
‘Students Against Racism’ got considerable attention for their demonstration in Stockholm of 200 young people outside a school where swastikas and Nazi slogans had been painted. In Eskilstuna, students blocked the racist Sweden Democrats from entering a school.
Trade unions have expressed their solidarity with the badly wounded demonstrators after the attack in Malmö. The slogan “Struggle Showan” has spread everywhere, on walls and on the internet.
Those who know Showan say it was not a coincidence that the Nazis attacked when they saw him. He has previously been pilloried on a nazi website for his anti-racist commitment. Showan is known for launching ‘Football fans against homophobia’ among Malmö supporters. He is still in hospital, now stabilised and showing signs of recovery.
This weekend, new big demonstrations against racism are planned around the country.