Groups in Sweden Protest Israel

March 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Protesters clash with police at Israel matchDozens of anti-Israel activists clashed with police Saturday as they tried to storm a closed arena where Sweden and Israel were played a Davis Cup tennis match.

The activists tried to break through the barricades set up to keep protesters from the arena, but riot police pushed them back.

The clashes erupted after about 7,000 people gathered at a square in downtown Malmo to hear speeches condemning Israel's offensive in Gaza and urging support for Palestinians.

Organizers of the "stop the match" protest had said the demonstration would be peaceful, but extreme-left activists had vowed to disrupt the match, which is being played in an empty stadium in Malmo.

Sweden's Left Party leader Lars Ohly told the crowd that the European Union and the rest of the world should "boycott the racist regime in Israel."

The protesters then marched toward the Baltic Hall arena, where some of them attacked the police line with eggs and firecrackers.

The doubles match between Sweden and Israel started as planned before about 200 special guests invited by the two countries' tennis federations.

Hundreds of police were deployed to keep the protesters from entering the arena.

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