Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson opened the debate in parliament, Photo: Claudio Bresciani/Scanpix<br><p><br>

Parliament debates violent extremism

The Swedish parliament debated violent extremism in this country Wednesday.

The debate was proposed by the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrat Party, who wanted to talk about Islamist violence here. None of the other parties accepted limiting the discussion that way, and the debate went ahead after the speaker of parliament amended the subject to cover all kinds of extremism.

On Swedish Radio Wednesday morning, Malena Rembe, the chief analyst for counter-terrorism at the police’s National Intelligence Service pointed to three sources of violent extremism in Sweden: Islamist, right wing white power, and the leftist groups called autonoma here.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson led off the debate in parliament, focusing completely on Islamist terrorism. He said the discussion here has characterized by fear of saying the wrong thing.

Jimmie Åkesson went on to say that it is unacceptable that Sweden still lacks a national plan against Islamic terrorism.

In response, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask of the conservative Moderate party rejected the focus solely on Islamist extremism, saying that Sweden is an open society where people from different backgrounds and religious beliefs can live side by side.

She went on to say that after sometimes deadly acts of violence, freedom and democracy must be preserved. The Justice Minister said extremism of all kinds must be prevented and fought against.

The group leader of the largest opposition party, Social Democrat Sven-Erik Östberg, said that acts like the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Stockholm, and the shootings of people with immigrant backgrounds in Malmö show how serious the situation is.

He said religious or political violence are an attack on democracy, and that all extremism is based on singling out groups, inventing collective responsibility for social problems. This was growing in Sweden, even among politicians, he said, possibly looking at the Sweden Democrats. And Sven-Erik Östberg also called for tighter controls on denominational private schools, to prevent extremist ideologies from gaining a foothold in society.

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