The funeral takes place of a school assistant killed in a racist attack by a sword-wielding masked man at a Swedish school.
Funeral for victim of Sweden sword attack against school
Sweden sword attack was ‘racist’, rising hostility to immigrants
/ TrollhÃ¤ttan (Sweden) – 23 October 2015 16:07 – AFP (Hugues HONORE) / WRAP – UPDATE
A sword-wielding masked man who killed two people at a Swedish school with many immigrant pupils was motivated by racism, police said Friday, as hostility toward refugees mounts across Europe.
Investigators in the southwestern Swedish town of Trollhattan confirmed that Thursday’s school attack was a “racially motivated” hate crime, based on the 21-year-old assailant’s “attire, his behaviour at the scene of the crimes”.
Police investigator Thord Haraldsson said the assailant targeted “those with dark complexions”, with the investigation so far “pointing to Nazism”.
Police also found documents at the killer’s home indicating the attack “was planned, and a hate crime,” he said, adding that the killer left a “kind of suicide note”.
The assailant, identified in the media as Anton Lundin-Pettersson, went from classroom to classroom at the Kronan school for six to 15-year-olds, wearing black clothes and a Darth Vader-like mask and German WWII helmet.
Stalking through the school, he killed one teacher and a teenage student, and injured another teacher and student who both remained in hospital on Friday.
All of those wounded were of immigrant origin.
On the killer’s social media accounts, he comes across as a loner fascinated by Hitler, Nazi Germany and the far-right Sweden Democrats party, which is critical of Islam and rising immigration.
A country of 9.8 million, Sweden expects to receive up to 190,000 asylum applications this year — putting it among the EU states with the highest proportion of refugees per capita as the continent struggles with a massive influx of migrants.
Support for the far-right has mounted as Sweden’s ability to house and integrate the new arrivals comes under strain.
– Immigration debate –
An opinion poll on Friday put the Sweden Democrats on 15.7 percent, up from the 12.9 percent it won in the 2014 election when it became the country’s third-largest party. Other polls have in recent months suggest it has become Sweden’s biggest party.
The Sweden Democrats recently said they wanted a referendum to be held on the government’s generous immigration policy, though they have little chance of obtaining such a vote.
More than a dozen arson attacks this year have targeted refugee reception centres and apartments in Sweden, reducing some of them to cinders.
On Friday, 200 to 300 residents of Trollhattan held a demonstration, shouting “Protect our children!” and “No to racism!”.
At the local mosque, the imam suggested Sweden’s immigration debate was partly to blame for the killings.
“How can a young man plan such a horrific attack? We don’t have all the facts yet, but we know that innocent people died. Maybe because of a distorted debate,” Abdi Rizak Wabari said.
Anti-racism magazine Expo said a “rhetoric of hatred” was blowing across the Scandinavian country.
“The risk is that we will see an escalation, legitimised by doomsday rhetoric and fomented in hatred’s digital echo-chamber,” editor-in-chief Daniel Poohl wrote.
– Attacks on migrants –
The rising anti-immigration trend can be seen across Europe, as more than 600,000 migrants and refugees — mainly fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — have made the dangerous journey to the continent this year, according to the UN.
In Germany, which is bracing for up to a million asylum requests this year, officials said Thursday they had foiled an extremist plot to torch two asylum centres, arresting 13 members of a far-right movement.
Reports have also emerged of assaults on boats carrying migrants from Turkey to Greece in the Aegean Sea.
In Switzerland, the rightwing populist SVP registered a record score in recent elections, and Austria’s far-right posted its best-ever election result in Vienna earlier this month.
With at least 9,000 people landing on Europe’s beaches every day, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has urged EU nations to share the burden for helping those in need.
“Let’s not write poems or make promises, let’s act because there is urgency,” he said.
“We must be conscious of our responsibility.”
Sweden’s left-wing coalition government and the centre-right opposition agreed Friday on a 21-point programme aimed at easing the strain on Sweden’s infrastructure caused by the large influx of refugees.
Among the measures are higher income requirements for family reunifications, the possibility to issue temporary residency permits, better distribution of refugees by requiring municipalities to accept them, and speeding up processing times for asylum applications and deportations of rejected asylum seekers.