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Following the terrorist incidents in France and Austria, the Swedish police decided to launch a “special national event” in order to be able to act quickly against a possible attack.
Following a spate of terrorist attacks in Europe, Swedish Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg has lashed out against violent Islamists, stressing that all forces that challenge democracy and equality or restrict freedom of expression or “our way of life”, must be fought.
Damberg underscored that in today’s Europe Islamist forces that resort to violence are one of the biggest threats. Therefore, the Swedish state cannot be neutral when people attempt to attack the very heart of democracy, he stressed.
Damberg’s comments come as the Swedish police decided to launch a “special national event” in order to be able to act quickly against a possible terrorist attack. The decision to elevate preparedness was taken following the terrorist attacks in France and Austria.
“It is important for Sweden to increase preparedness to be able to handle special events. There is a risk that others will be inspired through these acts, which is why the authorities have come to the conclusion to take precautionary measures to ensure that we can act very quickly”, Damberg told national broadcaster SVT.
The interior minister also emphasised that the environments where people become radicalised will be scrutinised.
“Our Swedish Constitution is not neutral, it is democratic. If we don’t stand up for freedom of expression and the equality we enjoy in our country, then these forces must be counteracted and fought. That is why I believe that we should not only look at the concrete terrorist threat, but also at the environments in which radicalisation takes place”, Damberg stressed.
The interior minister declined to speculate on the rumours of a feared terrorist attack. In response, he emphasised that the terrorist threat level in Sweden remains the same. If the authorities considered an acute terrorist threat to be imminent, they would have most certainly raised it, he underscored. At the same time, he stressed that an increased police presence and the aforementioned “special national event” are necessary.
“It is not often that you have three-four attacks in a row in a short time, then there is increased vigilance and stronger preparedness. The Swedish police and security police also have much stronger counter-terrorism preparedness today than just 5-6 years ago”, Damberg underscored.
Last week, a shooting spree in Vienna left four people dead and over 20 injured. The attacker was liquidated by the police. Daesh* later claimed responsibility for the carnage.
Earlier in October, France saw several Islamist attacks as well, including the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty over Prophet Muhammad cartoons he had used to illustrate the concept of free speech, followed by the church stabbings in Nice.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/“Islamic State”) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and others