Riots on the streets of Sweden

Over the Easter weekend, there were several riots in different parts of Sweden in which participants violently attacked the police and other emergency services. Screaming, trashing, burning, destroying, threatening and killing.

The riots were in response to anti-Islam events organised by radical, far-right Danish party Stram Kurs (Hard Line). The leader Rasmus Paladan, who is half Swedish, had been given permission to hold public rallies and burn the Qur’an.

While it is not illegal in Sweden to burn a religious scripture of any denomination, it is a clear and fully-intended provocation, leading to public outcry and reaction.

Let me be clear – I in no way condone the criminal actions of the rioters. They need to be identified, and prosecuted. I also do not condone the burning of the Qur’an. It is a senseless and racist affront intended only to aggravate.

The whole situation has put Swedish politicians in a pickle. Like most democratic countries, the concept of freedom of speech is central. Everybody has the right to say what they think, even if it is heinous. As a democracy, we have to accept it. We meet our combatants in debate and not in violent action.

So, the question becomes is burning the Islamic scripture an expression of this democratic right? Or is it incitement of hate, which is illegal in Sweden?

The politicians have skilfully dodged the question and passed it on to the police, to whom Rasmus Paladan has applied for permission to continue his tour of Sweden, despite ongoing public unrest.

It will be interesting to see what happens next in this historical moment in Swedish history.

The most common names in Sweden

According to svenskanamn.se, here are the most common names for men and for women in Sweden. If you’re living in Sweden, chances are you’re called one of these names – if not, you’ve definitely met one!

Most common names for men in order of frequency: Erik, Karl, Lars, Anders and Johan

Most common names for women in order of frequency: Maria, Anna, Margareta, Elisabeth, Eva.

The website also lists the most common surnames: Andersson, Johansson, Karlsson, Nilsson, Eriksson.

So technically, Erik and Maria Andersson are the most common names in Sweden.

Swedish icons: Ingmar Bergman

One of the most influential film directors of all time, Ingmar Bergman was born in 1918 in Uppsala, Sweden. He directed over 60 films, such as the classics ‘The Seventh Seal’, ‘Persona’, ‘Smiles of a Summer Night’, ‘Scenes from a Marriage’ and ‘Wild Strawberries’.

His films were often experimental and very dark, melancholy and miserable and many of them required patience to watch. He was nominated numerous times for an Oscar and won three times for Best Foreign Language film – ‘The Virgin Spring’, ‘Through a Glass Darkly’ and ‘Fanny and Alexander’.

He developed a legendary company of actors whom he frequently worked with, including great names such as Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann and Harriet Andersson.

Ingmar Bergman lived a stormy life and was notoriously hard to work and live with. He was frequently accused of being overbearing and misogynistic. Married five times, and with many other romantic connections, he fathered nine children, one of whom is the prominent Norwegian writer Linn Ullmann.

Bergman died in 2007 aged 89 in his home on the small Baltic island of Fårö, where he is buried. On Fårö today, there is a cultural center called the Bergman Center that focuses on his life and artistic achievements. Every year, they host the five-day long Bergman Week filled with film, discussions, drama, music and lectures.

For more information see: http://www.bergmancenter.se