Why this story matters:
Each summer, thousands of Swedes flock to the island of Gotland for a weeklong event centered around speeches from the country's politicians: Almedalen Week.
The neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) was present or the first time last year after being allowed to take part in the event. This year, they were denied any official involvement by organizers, but the police still granted them permission to protest and twice as many of their members attended, around 100 in total.
Members of the group heckled Center Party leader Annie Lööf during her speech, with a small number calling her a "traitor" -- although they fell silent when Lööf directly addressed them.
Another member was investigated on suspicion of assault linked to hate crime during Almedalen, and several other incidents involving NMR members were reported to police.
One anti-racism researcher told Swedish news site The Local that if the trend continues, Almedalen may have to change the way it works, for example by introducing guards. But others argue that excessive media coverage of the group (1,500 articles were published about the NMR last month) gives an inflated impression of their impact -- and grants them exactly the publicity they want.
Details from the story:
- Almedalen Week has been held on the island of Gotland every year since 1968
- This year's event wrapped up exactly 2 months before the country holds its general election
- The NMR has a presence in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland (where it has been banned)
- In 2017, 3,660 instances of neo-Nazi activity were documented in Sweden by anti-racism foundation Expo
- Swedish authorities have been criticized for allowing NMR demonstrations, but the right to protest is enshrined in Swedish law, making it difficult to legally prevent them