Thousands at demo to welcome refugees
At a demonstration in Stockholm, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven called for Europe to stand up for human dignity. "We need to decide what kind of Europe we want to be. My Europe receives refugees. My Europe does not build walls," he said.
Under sea of umbrellas at a rainy Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm, thousands of people gathered to show their support for refugees in a demonstration under the banner "Refugees Welcome".
The initiative was inspired by similar demonstrations in Germany and Austria. Among the speakers were Human Rights Activist Samaa Sarsour, who herself fled Syria in 1990. She turned to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in the audience, and said that "you have the power to create the change we want to see. Together with the EU and the UN you can create a no-fly-zone over Syria."
In his speech, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven mentioned the little 3-year-old boy, whose picture was spread around the world this week, as he lay dead, washed up on the beach. He said: "I mourn Alan, and I mourn all the children that die in war and terror... Of course we need to act now and Sweden needs to continue to take its responsibility. But that is not enough. All of Europe needs to do more."
He also said that "receiving refugees is a national task, which we must take on as a nation. That's why all municipalities need to help out, and no-one should shy away from it."
The demo was organised by the youth wings of all the parliamentary parties, except for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.
Several party leaders had expressed an interest to speak at the event, but the organisers decided to only let the prime minister to do so, and instead focus on the civil society.
"Several people have completely misunderstood the concept. This is supposed to be on a grassroots level and we do not want it to become a race among the politicians," said Semanur Taskin who is the spokesperson for the Green Party's youth wing.
Similar demonstrations are planned for Gothenburg and Malmö next week.