Sweden ‘Counter-Jihad’ Rally Outnumbered by Anti-Racists
A Stockholm rally by European and U.S. far-right groups seeking to create a global “counter-jihad” movement attracted fewer than 200 people on Saturday who were outnumbered by anti-racist protesters.
Police said the rival demonstration was kept apart from the far-right rally and drew a few hundred people, a small number of whom were detained.
The far-right rally was organized by groups including the English Defence League (EDL) which has been a driving force behind a handful of similar events, most recently a Danish rally in March.
The EDL gained international attention through anti-Islamic fanatic Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway a year ago and who referred to it admiringly in a manifesto on the Internet. The group has denied links to Breivik.
Support has grown in European countries for populist, nationalist and anti-immigration movements and in Sweden the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats won seats in parliament for the first time in 2010.
However, previous attempts by European far-right groups to join forces have foundered amid splits and feuding over ideology and leadership.
Nottingham University’s Matthew Goodwin, an expert on British far-right militant groups, said the Stockholm meeting was of strategic importance despite the modest turnout.
“The attending are quite significant figures within the anti-jihad movement. It signifies the strengthening links between counter-jihad groups and anti-Muslim groups within Europe and the United States,” he said.