Asplund told the Guardian she was motivated by anger and indignation. “No Nazi is going to march here, it’s not okay,” she is reported saying.

A woman hitting a neo-Nazi with her handbag.
A woman hitting a neo-Nazi with her handbag.
Image: Hans Runesson via Wikimedia Commons

For the Swedes, her image evokes that of another woman, Danuta Daniellson, known to Sweden as “tanten med väskan” (the woman with the bag). In 1985, Daniellson, a Polish-Jew Swede whose mother had been in a Nazi concentration camp, was portrayed by Hans Runesson in Växjö, Sweden, as she hit a neo-Nazi protester on the head, with her bag. That picture, too, became the iconic representation of a citizen’s fight to defend democracy.

While the Nazi party has never received large electoral support in Sweden, Nazi and neo-Nazi groups have existed in the country since the 1920s. There has been a spike in intolerance in recent years.

Asplund, who told the Guardian she is now afraid of Nazi retaliation, said she believes racism is growing in Sweden as it is elsewhere in Europe.  ”Maybe what I did can be a symbol that we can do something,” she told the Guardian, ”if one person can do it, anyone can.”

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