More than 60 people have been arrested during a neo-Nazi rally and counterdemonstration in Sweden’s second-largest city, according to police.
The rally by the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) in Gothenburg on Saturday featured an estimated 600 people, short of the 1,000 supporters the group said would attend, according to the Swedish anti-racist magazine, Expo.
Those who attended marched in formation in all-black outfits, some wearing helmets and holding shields.
The march, dubbed Revolt Against the Traitors, was met by a large crowd of counterdemonstrators.
Police had posted flyers before the event warning people not to act in a way reminiscent of German Nazis demonstrations in the 1930s and 1940s.
NMR, which promotes an openly anti-Semitic doctrine, originally sought to pass near a downtown synagogue during the march, which coincided with Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year.
But Swedish courts intervened and shortened the route to less than one kilometre. The rally’s ending time was also shortened to avoid clashing with a nearby football game.
Counterdemonstrators threw fireworks and attempted several times to break police lines, allegedly to confront NMR members, who also tried to get past riot police.
At least 60 people were detained, police said in a statement after the rally. Two people were also reportedly injured.
Police had warned people not to act in a way reminiscent of German Nazis demonstrations in the 1930s and 1940s. [Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/Reuters]
“Stones, bottles and sticks were also thrown at us,” police spokesman Hans Lippens said.
Police offered to shuttle NMR members away in buses after they were circled by riot police, preventing them from completing their march.
Police said the move was meant to keep both sides apart.
The NMR later demanded that its leader who had been detained, Simon Lindberg, be released before they would leave the square.
According to local media, the NMR said that it may not seek permission for future protests.
Some 20 people, mostly Danes and Germans, were stopped as they arrived in Sweden to take part in the demonstration.
Prior to the rally, anti-racist politicians, watchdog organisations and Jewish groups expressed their anger and frustration over the scheduled event.
“As a democracy, we should do much more to oppose Nazism and extremism,” Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s prime minister, said on Friday at an EU summit in Tallinn.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies