Sweden condemns 'Islamophobic' Quran burning

Foreign Ministry speaks after Muslim body calls for measures to stop it happening again

A rally in Jakarta on July 2, 2023 protesting against the burning of the Islamic holy book outside a Stockholm mosque that outraged Muslims around the world. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Sweden's government on Sunday condemned this week's burning of a Quran outside Stockholm's main mosque, calling it an “Islamophobic” act.

Its Foreign Minister spoke after an international Islamic body called for measures to avoid future burnings.

“The Swedish government fully understands that the Islamophobic acts committed by individuals at demonstrations in Sweden can be offensive to Muslims,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“We strongly condemn these acts, which in no way reflect the views of the Swedish government.”

The condemnation came in response to a call for collective measures to avoid future Quran burnings from the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.

The 57-member body met at its Jeddah headquarters to respond to Wednesday's incident in which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Islamic holy book and set several pages alight.

The organisation urged member states to “take unified and collective measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents of desecration of copies of the” Quran, it said after the “extraordinary” meeting.

“The burning of the Quran, or any other holy text, is an offensive and disrespectful act and a clear provocation,” the Swedish Foreign Ministry said. “Expressions of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Sweden or in Europe.”

The ministry added that Sweden has a “constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration”.

Countries including Iraq, Kuwait, the UAE and Morocco have summoned Swedish ambassadors in protest at the Quran burning incident.

On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran is holding off sending its new ambassador to Sweden, Hojjatollah Faghani, following the burning.

Swedish police had granted Momika a permit in line with free speech protections, but authorities later said they had opened an investigation over “agitation against an ethnic group”. It noted that Momika had burnt pages from the Islamic holy book very close to the mosque.

Updated: July 03, 2023, 7:24 AM