Members of the Neo-nazi Nordic Resistance Movement march through the town of Ludvika, Sweden May 1, 2018.\ TT NEWS AGENCY/ REUTERS
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The neo-Nazi party Nordic Resistance Movement has been allowed by the Swedish police to publicly hold meetings and demonstrations at the Almedalen Week, the biggest political event in Sweden taking place this week. According to Swedish law, all public gatherings and demonstrations require a permit approved by the police department.
The Nordic Resistance Movement seeks to create a Nordic republic, made up of the countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland and wants to expel all citizens that do not have an "ethnic northern European heritage".
The party is openly anti-Semitic and states in their party program that they want to "retake power from the global Zionist elite that economically and militarily occupied the majority of our world". They are also outspoken Holocaust deniers.
The Swedish police have come under sharp criticism for allowing the party to participate during the week. The leading LGBTQ rights group in Sweden, RFSL, tried to appeal against the decision but got rejected. They subsequently decided to withdraw from the events out of fear from the neo- Nazi party, who has been running a campaign called "crush the homo lobby" previously this year.
The neo-Nazi party speaking during the Almedalen Week. Screenshot from the documentary.SVT Documentary 'Long Live Democracy'
Swedish law and its strong provisions for free speech make it difficult for the police to deny anyone the right to arrange a public gathering or demonstration. However, one exception is if the gathering constitutes a danger to the participants or heavily disrupts law and order. The police commissioner in charge of security during the week said to Swedish newspaper SvD the police have a "good dialogue" with the party.
Another critic of the police's decision is Jan Scherman, previous CEO of one of Sweden's largest television channels TV4. His documentary film, "Long Live Democracy," which examines the state of Sweden's democracy, was recently aired in the country. In one of the scenes, Scherman meets with members from the neo-Nazi party during last year's Almedalen Week.
Scherman asks one of the party members if he can answer a few questions about democracy and is met with the answer: "Not to a filthy Jew". Moments later, it is explained to Scherman that he does not have a place in Sweden since he is a "Jew and Zionist". Several members of the party are also seen holding riot shields with their emblem on, chanting "Sieg Heil".
Scherman, left, and two neo-Nazi party members. Screenshot from the documentary. SVT Documentary 'Long Live Democracy'
The Almedalen Week takes place every year in the beginning of July and it is the biggest political event in Sweden. Last year, the week hosted over 4,000 events and registered over 40,000 visitors. It is viewed as one of the most important platforms to spread political messages and is widely covered by the Swedish media.
This year's event is especially important since the Swedish national elections will take place in September. It is also the first time that the Nordic Resistance Movement will run for the national election.