Thousands gather in Kärrtorp for rally against racism

An estimated 16,000 rallied at a stadium in Kärrtorp on Sunday to protest against acts of racism and hate in Sweden. A festival-like atmosphere reigned as musicians sang songs, organizers delivered rousing speeches and cheering crowds danced throughout the football pitch.

The demonstration comes one week after members of a neo-Nazi group clashed with peaceful protestors in the Stockholm suburb, attacking participants by throwing bottles, firecrackers and other items.

Organizers of Sunday's rally said the event was an answer to the violence that rocked Kärrtorp. Members of the organizing group Line 17 told journalists that "when the Nazis says hate so say we love." Similar gatherings were held in solidarity in the Swedish cities of Borås, Luleå, Malmö, Motala and Östersund.

The crowd of thousands met in the center of Kärrtorp before making their way down to the stadium.

Attending the rally were several politicians, including Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven, Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag and Green Party spokeswoman Åsa Romson. Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt said he attend to show his "disgust for the Nazi violence."

"It feels that this square has been taken back," Sjöstedt told news agency TT. "It shows that we are many, those who believe in democracy and non-violence."

Ewa Tuneback and Jörgen Franzén journeyed from northwest Stockholm to participate in the gathering. "We feel it is important to show what ordinary people think," the pair said to TT.

Efraim Olalla from Madrid, was visiting Sweden to celebrate Christmas. He came to Kärrtorp with his 3-year-old daughter to join in with the festivities. "We have had similar problems in southern Europe, so it's important for me to come here," he said.