Police in riot gear stormed the rally on Saturday, driving hundreds of protesters away in trucks. Sian leader Lars Thorsen ended the demonstration by burning the Koran.
– For the safety of those involved and those at the centre, and the business world is no exception, the police saw the need to end Sian’s tagging the previous Saturday afternoon, the head of the police station in Sandefjord, Siw Thokle told VG Saturday afternoon.
According to Thokle, there were at most 300-400 counter protesters during the marking.
Thokle confirmed that the Koran was burned towards the end of the anti-Islam organization Sian’s celebrations in the city.
Just before 6pm on Saturday, on-site VG reporters reported that police used gas grenades to drive the last counter-protesters from the center of Sandefjord.
Thokle told NTB that one of the counter-demonstrators during the burning of the Koran managed to get past the fence installed around the Sian members. The person was immediately arrested by the police.
According to Thokle, several people were evicted from the place. The stationmaster did not have a complete picture of the number arrested, but there had to be more than one.
According to a VG reporter, the police asked people on the spot to step back as some of the counter protesters were said to have thrown stones.
VG reporters have seen rocks and bottles thrown at the police.
Thokle confirmed that police used tear gas grenades to disperse the protesters.
According to the station chief, damage had been done to two police vehicles. No injuries were reported among the police employees, he said.
– The police had planned that event for a long time. We follow we are ready, is no exception with preventive work. We had done dialogue work before the event, said Thokle.
– We have a desire for peaceful demonstrations and peaceful counter-demonstrations, but we are also prepared – in light of the announcement that the Koran will be burned – that there may be a great atmosphere. We’ve seen this at other demonstrations, he said.
– Burning the Koran is not a crime, but we know it is considered offensive to many people and thus can be experienced as a provocation, added Thokle.
Saturday’s Sian demonstration and Koran burning came after several riots in Sweden after Danish anti-Islam politician Rasmus Paludan set fire to and announced that he would burn Korans in several Swedish cities.
Paludan has been reported for incitement against someone population groups after the burning of the Koran in Sweden.
Dozens of police and civilians were injured, and police cars and buildings were burned. Swedish police say they believe criminal gangs, and not ordinary protesters, are behind the riots.
Paludan was in Norway in February where he attended the Sian celebration in front of the Storting, but he did not burn the Koran during his appeal.
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