It is 1 PM on Saturday 23 March, still a full hour yet until the Swedish Defence League (SDL) is to hold its support rally for a democratic and secular society with free expression. The leftist political party Vänsterpartiet stands perched at the statue of Swedish king Karl X, encouraging those assembled to give the demonstrators from nearby Möllevångstorget a warm welcome.
They have barely unfolded their banner with the slogan No Breivik soldiers in our streets before all hell breaks loose in Stortorget. As if on cue, one firecracker after another goes off, and the city squared is drowned in red/green Bengal flames, while the counter-demonstrators attack the riot fence, and with a deafening sound carry it 20-30 meters backwards. It is like being in a war zone, where one becomes worried about surviving it.
Although hundreds of police officers are in the streets in order to ensure safety during the SDL rally, they seem taken by surprise. They have permitted the counter-demonstrators to walk up to the outer riot fence, and seem not to have imagined that the counter-demonstrators would turn violent a full hour before the object of their hate, the SDL, was to appear. After some minutes, battle-clad police officers rush in, seizing control of the situation, forcing back the violent black-clad counter-demonstrators and reestablishing the riot fence. The police then have to establish a chain formation in order to prevent the violent and agitated crowd from continuing their disturbances.
A reporter asks police press spokesman Ewa-Gun Westford: What do the counter-demonstrators want to achieve by this?
To disrupt, disrupt, disrupt!
Just how disruptive are they?
Very much so! Everything is a mess right now, and we simply have to rethink, says Ewa-Gun Westford.
While several vans appear in front of the riot fences, increasing the distance between the counter-demonstrators and where SDL is to appear, suddenly heavy rock music fills the Stortorget city square. It is SDL warming up with the Swedish rock band Sabaton and Kung Carolus sång.
But now the distance has grown so wide that it becomes difficult for those present to see and hear the SDL speech. Not even journalists are allowed through the barricades. Apart from Dispatch International, which for security reasons was permitted to follow the event inside the fences.
But it was quite apparent that none of the counter-demonstrators had the least interest in hearing the speech by SDL spokesman Kamil Ryba. While Ryba talks of what disturbs him repression of women in Islam and how persons leaving Islam are punished with death the shouted chants continue a distance away: Nazi pigs, Nazi pigs!
As SDL starts, no more than about 20 persons are present. Just how many Malmö citizens would have liked to hear what they have to say is clearly impossible to guess. Only the extremely courageous dare challenge the mob outside the riot fences and ask the police for permission to pass through the fences in order to listen.
But an elderly woman with a rollator has that courage. She is standing there with a Swedish flag while Kamil Ryba gives his speech. From time to time she turns towards the mob, triumphantly waving her Swedish flag. Until a female police officer walks up to her, telling her to stop. It is not necessary to provoke them, she explains.
I got really mad, said the woman with the flag afterwards. There they are, screaming, throwing eggs and tomatoes, but I am not allowed to wave the Swedish flag!
The counter-demonstrators are not wielding any Swedish flags, but many anarchist red-black banners and, surprisingly, a couple of rainbow banners. Kamil Ryba notes this in his speech:
You there, standing out there with the rainbow flags, how do you think you will fare when the Islamists take over? Dont you know what they are doing to with people like you?
No, apparently they do not. At the end of the rally, Kamil Ryba picks up two books to read from. The first is Reliance of the Traveller, a manual on Shariah law. He reads various passages from that, including one stating that circumcision is Islamic law.
After that, he reads from the Quran. But although the counter-demonstrators in the distance seem so devoted to Islam, they have no desire to hear what is in the Muslims holy book. The rude insults are louder than ever, as if the (very few) Malmö citizens present have to be kept away from the risk of hearing something that could scare them.
It is reported that Vänsterpartiet (who initiated the counter-demonstration) has filed a complaint over the expenses incurred for the police. It apparently has not dawned on them that these expenses are due to their own inflammatory behavior. In his call to assemble at Stortorget, Vänsterpartiet writes: On March 23rd, SDL is hosting a public meeting on Stortorget in Malmö. Vänsterpartiet Malmö calls upon all anti-racists and democrats to assemble at Stortorget, in order to show that we do not share the views that SDL represents, and that we will not permit ourselves to be scared into silence.
But apparently scaring others into silence is just fine.