Sweden has drawn up a plan to fight extremism in response to attacks in neighbouring Norway that killed 77 people last month, government ministers wrote in an opinion piece published Friday.
The national plan was needed to safeguard Sweden against similar attacks, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and two ministers wrote, describing the Norway killings as a “catastrophe of unimaginable dimensions”.
They identified the fringes of three extremist groups as the most dangerous: the white-power far-right, the far-left and Islamists.
“We need to have a broad concept of violent extremism and not limit our line of vision,” Reinfeldt, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask and Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson wrote in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
“There are many similarities in the processes that lead individuals to use violence to reach political goals, regardless of the political or religious content of their extreme ideas,” they wrote.
The plan calls for close cooperation and expanded intelligence and information sharing between all strata of society, including police, national and local authorities, schools, social services and civil society.
The rightwing extremist who confessed to the twin July 22 attacks in Norway had much in common with the Islamic extremist behind the first ever suicide bombing in Sweden in December last year, the ministers said.
The Sweden attacker, 29-year-old Taimour Abdulwahab, was killed when apparently detonating his bomb by mistake in a deserted Stockholm side street. Two people were injured when his car exploded in an earlier blast.
Citing a report that around 20 percent of Swedish high school students showed intolerance towards minorities, the ministers emphasised the importance of reaching people who “risk making up the growth basis for future extremism.”
“It is important that vulnerable individuals who could be drawn to an anti-democratic message stand at the centre of our preventive work so they can be detected in time,” they wrote.
“Battling against violence-prone extremism is not just a task for the state. All of Sweden is needed to protect our democracy.”
They presented their plan two weeks after 32-year-old rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik bombed government offices in Oslo, killing eight people, and then shot dead 69 more on the nearby island of Utoeya where the ruling Labour Party's youth organisation was hosting a summer camp. - Sapa-AFP