On Monday 4th of July four neo-nazis will stand trial for attacking and causing injuries to six anti-fascists in Malmo, Sweden, after the anarcha-feminist march organized in the context of the International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, 2014. Every year on the 8th of March in Malmo, anarchafeminist collectives organize night marches that are exclusively participated and guarded by women and transgender individuals. After the march there is usually a party that is organized and participated by comrades from the wider anarchist and anti-authority scene. On the night of the 8th of March 2014, following the completion of the autonomous/working-class feminist march ”Reclaim the Night” at Möllevågnstorget square (equivalent to Exarcheia district in Athens), groups of protesters along with comrades in the area began to march to People’s Park which is where the party was taking place, located approximately 300 meters away from the square. Along the way and only a few blocks away from the square, the group of comrades came across neonazi members of the national socialist Party of the Swedes (Svenskarnas Parti), who were applying stickers outside the anti-fascist centre Glassfabriken. (look at the map)
During the clashes that followed six comrades got injured: 4 had superficial knife wounds all over their bodies, one sustained serious injuries as the knife had penetrated his lungs and another sustained severe brain trauma and knife injuries all over his body. Four of the injured comrades were discharged from hospital after having been given first aid, while the other two with serious injuries had to remain hospitalized. It quickly became known that an anti-fascist named Showan Shattak was in a coma in the ICU and the prognosis about his life was uncertain. Even if Showan made it he would never be the same person again. How did the nazis come to carry through an organized attack in one of the most notable anti-fascist districts in Scandinavia where immigrants and anti-fascists have lived and organized collectively since the 1980s?
The Swedish society faced the neo-nazi threat at the beginning of the 90s following a domestic financial crisis and historical developments characterized by the collapse of the soviet bloc and the rise of neo-nazism in Germany. Swedish fascists provided leading members of the German NPD with shelter, while the latter contributed towards organizing a militant neo-nazi movement in Scandinavia. Swedish fascists used pogroms against immigrants and attacks against anarcho-syndicalists to impose their hegemony on the streets. Very quickly, they encountered the bold resistance of a militant anti-fascist front composed by smaller local anti-fascist groups in the towns and cities of Sweden as well as the Swedish platform of Antifascist Movement (AFA) which became active in 1993 and was quickly integrated with the European anti-fascist movements, particularly those in Germany and Scandinavia. Militant anti-fascism in Sweden during the second half of the ’90s was protective against the spread of the epidemic of fascism in the country via crucial and very impressive actions. For many years the presence of fascists was restricted in closed meetings and the internet.
But there was a shift from 2010 onward. With a right wing, neoliberal, christian-democrat and centre party government coalition going through a second term of administration (for the first time in the history of the country) and during the dismantlement of the Swedish model, a public hysteria against the influx of immigrants and a general turn to the right-wing in Europe, fascists in Sweden have gradually appeared again. The structural racism deeply ingrained in the social fabric of the Swedish ”paradise” has produced ghettos and second class citizens and established work-related exclusions. As an example, the racist policy REVA (Legal and Effective Enforcement Work) has enabled police roadblocks on public transportation stops where inspections of citizens are carried through on a daily basis in order to identify immigrants with no papers. However, the uniformed officers display a compulsive preference towards selecting people with very specific racial characteristics. As Tobias Billistrom, former minister of Integration of Immigrants, wondered: ”Why are you reacting? Do you really think that Swedish citizens, with their blonde hair with blue eyes, are hiding illegal immigrants?” If in this context we consider the discrepancy between the higher unemployment rates affecting disproportionately immigrant communities and youth in comparison to locals and individuals over 45 years old respectively, as well as the significantly higher salaries enjoyed by locals in contrast to immigrants for the same type of work, we can see how these account for the rise of the far-right and the aggressive reactions of immigrants (for example the insurrection in the suburbs of Stockholm following the murder of an immigrant in May 2013).
The constant social polarization led to the initial fascist attacks. In December 2013, in Sertop, a small and quiet suburb in Stockholm, an anti-racist protest organized by the local network ”Line 17” (constituted mainly by Trotskyists) was attacked.
The nazi group behind the attack is called ”Swedish Resistance Movement (SRM). The SRM is the outcome of the criminal nazi organizations of the ’90s which engaged in numerous criminal activities. In the past, SRM attempted to implement a classic nazi tactic in the streets of Swedish cities: the bullying and intimidation of anti-fascists, immigrants, gay/lesbian and transgender people and all those who did not fit with their obsessions. They organized outdoor training grounds for martial arts and propagated their political agenda through street actions. The SRM is the equivalent of the autonomous nationalists in Greece. The attack in Sertop signified an essential change in the course of action followed by fascists. SRM transformed its strategy and moved on from directly offensive actions to offensive defense during provocative interventions, which basically means they paid ”visits” to events organized by leftists, anarchists and autonomous. The recent activities of the SRM reveal signs of an increasing sectarianism in the organizational chapter in Stockholm and an effort to gain territorial dominance. In other words, the fascists in Stockholm have decided to claim neighbourhoods through action. The SRM is a hierarchically structured organization based on the standards of the Hungarian nazi organization Crossed Arrows. Per Öberg, one of the leading members of the SRM, described the structure of the organization as follows: ”our structure is similar to any other corporate structure”, which says a lot about the way contemporary capitalist corporations are structured.
The attack in Sertop caused a wide anti-fascist mobilizing throughout Sweden but it soon had to deal with the organizational and ideological impasses and contradictions between militant anti-fascism and the integrated or bourgeois/liberal ”anti”-fascism. Even the leader of the social-democrat party and current PM Stefan Löfven took part in the anti-nazi rally that was organized a week after the attack in Sertop along with a large part of the political state personnel, the media and the cultural elite. Twenty thousand people participated in that rally which falsely appeared as a rally for gender rights in pro-state mainstream media. Liberals and reformists attempted to neutralize and appropriate the anti-fascist struggle through the removal of its working class characteristics and its transformation into a component of liberal lifestyle. This is how we got to the attack in Malmo.
Six members of the nazi Party of the Swedes appeared armed in a politically-oriented and hostile towards them area on a night an organized march was held and while hundreds of comrades were in the area. The fascists moved toward the square, put stickers with fascist messages outside an anti-fascist centre and looked for people. They recognized Showan near People’s Park, a well-known activist for his anti-fascist and anti-homophobic actions in the city’s stadiums. They attacked him from behind, threw him on the ground and pulverized his head. All those who tried to approach the scene and pull him away were attacked with knives. The screams of the anti-fasicsts were heard at the square and people rushed to the scene and chased away the fascists. Mounted police units and police vans appeared shortly. Their initial assessment was that these were clashes among hooligans (!!). The police conducted a superficial investigation despite claims for attempted murder. Two of the six nazis who tried to find shelter at the police were detained and subsequently released. The alleged knife bearer, Andreas Carlsson, ( a 32 year-old known for his participation in nazi organizations including the Party of the Swedes and his convictions for racist and violent crimes), was just told to go away despite his cap bearing the signs of the Ukrainian fascist party Svoboda. Carlsson had returned from Ukraine a few days before the attack took place in Malmo.
During the two following days the information leaked by the police was that they did not understand what had happened. On Monday March the 10th an official announcement stated that Carlsson would be detained but the police got to his house on Tuesday, three days following the attack and 24 hours after the announcement of his forthcoming arrest. Carlsson had of course fled, with rumours saying he was already in Ukraine. According to the militant journalist collective Research Gruppen, Carlsson flew from Coppenhagen airport to Kiev on the 14th of March where he joined the nazi militias. On his personal Facebook account he was posting picures from Europe where he supposedly was, while he made fun of cops, Schengen and Showan and claimed that ”the truth will eventually win”. Considerably more provocative, he posted a photo depicting the Swedish town Helsingborg on April 30th, stating he was there to celebrate the local festival of Valborg. After a significant delay the police was finally activated and an international arrest warrant was issued. Due to the lack of a bilateral agreement among the two nations regarding extradition and since Carlsson had joined the pro- government Ukrainian forces, it was considered impossible to have him arrested and extradited directly. In August 2014, a leading member of the Party of Swedes was photographed with him during a visit to Ukraine.
As Showan was still in the ICU the anti-fascist movement in Sweden began a polymorphous struggle. Organized marches took place throughout the country -the demo in Malmo on the 16th of March which is estimated to be the largest local antifascist demo in the town’s history with 10,000 participants is a characteristic example. There were also closed actions during this period which was actually right before the general elections on the 14th of September. Simultaneously, extreme repression was deployed by the Swedish state: houses of comrades were raided by secret services and a special unit for the repression of ”extreme” political groups was formed.
In this context the nazi Party of Swedes called for a central pre-election rally in a Malmo suburb at the end of August, 2014. A call for a counter-demo was made immediately and thousands of counter- protesters attempted to take over the square where the fascists had planned to assemble. The intervention of cops was extremely violent and culminated in the attack of mounted police against a crowd of counter-protesters as well as the mass detentions and arrests of anti-fascists during and after the counter- demo, based on video footage.
A week later, antifascists in Stockholm at a corresponding counter-demo against a nazi pre-election rally were treated similarly. Following these two counter-demos, more than 20 comrades were convicted to prison sentences and house arrests.
Carlsson was arrested by the Ukrainian secret services in November 2015 after the situation in the country became relatively stable. He stated that his arrest resulted from his cellphone signal being tracked. He was extradited to Sweden on the 15th of March 2016 and has been remanded since then along with his co-defendant, Magnus Ingvar Holmqvist (rumour has it that Carlsson gave him away). Carlsson declares himself innocent and a victim of an attack by anti-fascists.
The trial against the four fascists (one of which has allegedly fled to Ukraine) for the violent attack which caused serious injuries to the activist Showan Shattak and another 5 members of the anti-fascist movement, started on Monday July 4th in Malmo. The line of argument of the nazis is that they were in defense and that anti-fascists attacked them first. Showan, whose life is no longer at risk but has changed dramatically since he has now got to live with unbearable headaches and loss of his short-term memory, will participate in this trial.
The trial has political characteristics and anti-fascists have called for rallies outside the courtroom during the week. There are no illusions regarding the role of civil justice particularly at this point, based on how the Swedish state has handled the case and used the exposure of a pro-state ”anti”-fascism as a means to contain public rage and guarantee social order. Anti-fascism remains a subversive anti-capitalist class struggle: an intervention inside and outside of courtrooms, across all social spheres, at the core of every day struggles for freedom, equality, justice and solidarity.
Solidarity with the comrades in Malmo.
Antifa means Attack!