Clashes described by police as a “violent riot” erupted in Sweden’s third-largest city after an anti-Islam protester set fire to the Koran.
Police in Malmo said they were pelted with rocks and dozens of cars were set on fire, including in an underground garage, in clashes that started on Sunday and lasted overnight.
It started after an angry mob tried to stop anti-Islam activist Salwan Momika after he burned a copy of the Koran.
A string of Koran burning incidents in both Sweden and neighbouring Denmark have sparked angry protests in recent months – and threatened a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and Muslim nations.
Early on Monday, an angry crowd set fire to tyres and debris and some were seen throwing electric scooters, bicycles and barriers in Malmo’s Rosengard neighbourhood – which has seen similar violence in the past.
At least three people have been detained, police said.
“I understand that a public gathering like this arouses strong emotions, but we cannot tolerate disturbances and violent expressions like those we saw on Sunday afternoon,” senior police officer Petra Stenkula said.
“It is extremely regrettable to once again see violence and vandalism at Rosengard,” she said.
Mr Momika, a refugee from Iraq, has desecrated the Koran in a number of anti-Islam protests mostly in Stockholm that have caused anger in many Muslim countries.
Muslim leaders in Sweden have called on the government to find ways to stop the Koran burnings, but police have allowed Mr Momika’s actions, citing freedom of speech.
There is no law in Sweden specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of the Koran or other religious texts, as it dropped blasphemy laws in 1970.
Police have to cite specific grounds to deny a permit for a demonstration or public gathering, but the government has announced an inquiry into legal possibilities for enabling police to reject permits over national security concerns.
Last month, Sweden and Denmark, which are among the most liberal countries in the world, tightened border controls in fear of revenge attacks.
The Swedish security service also increased its terror threat from three to four – with five being the maximum – meaning there is a “high threat” of an attack.