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World News

Police action after Swedish church bells incident

by Glyn Jones

The ringing of church bells in Sweden has been used to disrupt a far-right political rally and drown out a speech by one of the group's leaders. But it led to the police being called. 

Violence had already marred a series of rallies over Easter, with politician Rasmus Paladan threatening to burn the Islamic text - the Quran.

In Jonkoping, a planned rally near the city's mosque was relocated. But when the Revd Fredrik Hollertz realised it was going to be held at a site near his church he decided to intervene by ringing the bells.

He told Premier, "The bell tower sounds really, really loud. It's impossible to speak when the church bells are ringing."

Initially, the reaction of Rasmus Paladan suggested the bells were not going to halt the far-right rally.

According to the bell-tolling clergyman, "First he laughed and thought it was going to stop, but then when it was going on for ten or fifteen minutes he was getting very angry."

Police intervened and knocked on the locked doors of the church. They have warned the Rev Hollertz that he may have broken Sweden's laws protecting Freedom of Speech and could face further police action.

But the clergyman has defended his actions and says they flow from his Christian faith. 

"When you ring a church bell it's a call for prayer and repentance. So, it's also a symbolic act.

He concludes "The way of a Christian is not burning and hate but to love and respect."

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