A picture of a phone being used in a classroom and Christer Mattson
Christer Mattson (right) Credit: Berit Roald/TT NYHETSBYRÅN (left), SEBASTIAN SCHEINER (right)

Local anti-extremism action plans may violate constitution, report suggests

6:36 min

A report commissioned by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) suggests that municipalities' plans to tackle violent extremism are too invasive and not sufficiently rooted in local needs.

Christer Mattson, one of the report's authors, told Radio Sweden that many of the action plans are not useful as they are based on national guidelines, instead of local issues and needs.

He explained that approximately 15% of the plans risked violating constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, by proposing that non-criminal activity should be monitored.

The plans instruct civil servants to report information about individuals taking part in so-called radical meetings: who takes part, what they say ... to the security police. We're not talking about criminal activity; it is political meetings they are instructing civil servants to observe.

Mattson added that some of the action plans might actually fuel radicalisation by "pinpointing individuals and portraying them as potential terrorists", as well as feeding into extremists' conspiracy theories.

He did, however, consider 23 municipalities to have drawn up high-quality action plans, as they were rooted in local contexts.

He also suggested that fostering healthy debate in schools was one of the best ways of challenging extremism. He said it was not a question of "[controlling] the minds of pupils but rather [challenging] their worldviews."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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