The Internet Anti-Fascist: Tuesday, 16 November 1999
                         Vol. 3, Number 94 (#358)

            Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times -- 14 Nov 99)

STOCKHOLM--No one here took much notice of the hundreds of hate crimes 
against immigrants over the last few years that besmirched the image of 
Sweden as a bastion of tolerance and serenity. 

Nor did many here rise up in anger over the execution-style slayings of two 
police officers who foiled a bank robbery by neo-Nazis in May, or the car 
bombing a month later that seriously wounded an investigative reporter who 
had been documenting this country's white supremacist movement. 
But when a mild-mannered warehouse clerk was gunned down in his Stockholm 
apartment last month after protesting the election of an avowed neo-Nazi to 
the board of his trade union, Swedes got the message that any open-minded 
person could be an enemy or a victim of racist radicals. 

Three gunmen fired six bullets into the head of Bjoern Soederberg on Oct.
12  after the warehouse worker for an office supply company disclosed to 
newspapers that the man elected to represent his union shop, Robert 
Vesterlund, was the publisher of two racist periodicals and participated in 
white supremacist rallies. 

Vesterlund had been forced to resign before the shooting, for which three 
neo-Nazis in his inner circle have been arrested and charged. 
"Bjoern wasn't an anti-Nazi crusader. He was just an average guy who did
what  any decent person would have done, which is to stand up and confront 
something that is wrong," said Anna-Clara Bratt, editor of the Arbetaren 
labor journal. "Almost 90% of Swedish workers are trade union members, so
his  murder served as a warning call that anyone could be next." 

Before Soederberg's slaying, Bratt said, Swedes tended to avert their eyes 
from the ugly assaults and harassment of immigrants and refugees, who now 
make up as many as 1 million of Sweden's 8.9 million residents. 
Since 1995, there have been at least four slayings of foreigners attributed 
to neo-Nazis, and police have investigated hundreds of racially motivated 
attacks each year, said Margareta Lindroth, deputy director of Sweden's
SAPO  security forces. 

Attacks such as those on the police officers and journalist likewise were 
brushed off by most Swedes as occupational hazards. 
Sociologists and historians attribute the recent surge in neo-Nazi violence 
to desperation among a small but powerful minority that has come to realize 
that it cannot penetrate the established political parties and win converts 
to its anti-immigrant and racist message. 

Unlike in Austria, where the ultranationalist Freedom Party won the 
second-largest number of votes in parliamentary elections last month with 
toned-down rightist rhetoric, the vast majority of Swedes array themselves 
among parties firmly on the political left. 

"Neo-Nazi activists today realize there is no way they can ever arouse the 
Swedish masses. The majority of Swedes will never get behind the national 
socialist banner of racial revolution," said political scientist Matthias 
Gardell, a University of Stockholm professor who has written extensively on 
Sweden's racist radicals. 

Like other analysts, he estimates the number of neo-Nazi activists at no
more  than a couple thousand, of which perhaps 50 are believed to be
willing to  carry out serious crimes. But their relatively small number and
fragmentation  make them all the more dangerous, he said, because being
marginalized  intensifies their "paranoid view of themselves as white
warriors facing  extermination." 

The Internet allows Sweden's racists to form bonds with U.S. white 
supremacist groups, emboldening the Nordic extremists by giving them the 
sense of belonging to a broader community, Gardell said. Sweden also has 
become the international production and marketing center for racist music 
cassettes and CDs, whose sales on the Internet help finance the extremists' 
activities, he said. 

But Gardell believes that Sweden's radicals made a tactical error in 
attacking Soederberg, because the 41-year-old clerk's slaying inspired the 
first broad anti-racist backlash. Tens of thousands took to the streets 
across Sweden late last month to demand a government crackdown on neo-
Nazis.  Some political parties have called for a ban on public activities
by racists  and nationalists and a formal prohibition against membership in
organizations  openly espousing fascism. 

A recent poll by the SIFO Institute published in Dagens Nyheter, a
prominent  daily newspaper here, showed 69% of respondents backing a
criminal ban on  right-wing extremism--the first hint of majority support
for free-speech  restrictions in modern Sweden. 

But most leftists and liberals, who have controlled the power structure for 
decades, argue that a ban would do little more than drive the extremists 

"We already have laws against murder and bombing. We think the laws are 
sufficient; they just need to be practiced," said Ulla Hoffmann, a member
of  parliament from the Left Party. "What is at issue is free speech. If we
start  by forbidding Nazis to talk, the next ones silenced will be the
Communists  and other leftist parties." 

What national leaders need to do to fight the neo-Nazi resurgence, Hoffmann 
said, is to guide the country through a long-overdue confrontation with its 
World War II role. 

Although Sweden ostensibly remained neutral during the war, officials have 
conceded over the last decade that the country supplied Germany's Third
Reich  with iron ore for its munitions factories and allowed Nazi troops to
pass  through Sweden en route to attacks on other countries. 

Hoffmann and Hannele Peltonen of the Syndikalisterna, a trade union
umbrella  that covers Soederberg's shop, tie the rise in right-wing
extremism to a  distorted self-image of Swedes as innocents and to flagging
financial support  for schools and social services. The latter, they said,
enhances the  impression among nationalists and conservatives that
immigrants represent  competition for pieces of the shrinking public pie. 

"There are a lot of right-wing people working inside police and military 
organizations," Peltonen said, suggesting that their sympathies for some of 
the neo-Nazi causes explain why existing laws prohibiting threats against 
ethnic groups or incitement of violence are seldom applied. 

Syndikalisterna's offices in the town of Gavle, about 90 miles north of 
Stockholm, were bombed a week after the suspects in Soederberg's death were 
arrested, suggesting that a dangerous rear guard in the radical right
remains  at large and active, Peltonen said.
Police contend that the suspects in the Soederberg killing were linked with 
the National Socialist Front of Karlskrona, the country's largest openly 
neo-Nazi group with an estimated 400 members. 


                       RIGHTWING QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
      For those who believe that fascism is only a thing of the past

It's time to begin thinking about how we racists are going to party at
12:00 January 1, 2000. Pigs will be spread pretty thin. So many people will
be shooting firearms in the air that one pointed horizontally won't alert
too much attention. Will niggers and spics tear up Sout' Central again?
Where will most Jews be at the stroke of midnight? And is there enough
"national security?" to protect every one of the ZOG's precious, loyal
sheeple? Please send your ideas about how we should go about arranging this
party of ours.

  --  Ax Curtis
      The Nationalist Observer (Nov 99)

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