Turkey condemns new Quran burning in Sweden

Police give permit to right-wing activist for stunt outside Stockholm mosque

Turkish President slams burning of Quran in Sweden

Turkish President slams burning of Quran in Sweden
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Turkey on Wednesday condemned a protest in Sweden in which a Quran was burned in public for the second time this year.

An activist tore up pages of the Quran and set it alight after police in Stockholm granted a permit for the stunt outside a mosque.

Police said security risks did not justify blocking the protest – after authorities were overruled by a court when they tried to ban previous rallies.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said the protest was “legal but not appropriate”.

But Turkey, whose support Sweden needs to become a member of Nato, denounced the decision to allow a “vile protest” on the first day of Eid Al Adha.

“To condone such atrocious acts is to be complicit,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

The burning of a Quran outside Turkey's Stockholm embassy in January led to condemnation, protests and put the brakes on Sweden's Nato membership bid.

Wednesday's protest was planned by a different activist, Salwan Momika, who describes himself as an atheist from Iraq and a member of the far-right Sweden Democrats.

He wrote in a recent social media post that Sweden's “freedom and laws are in danger” and that police “are trying to impose the Quran on you”.

The protest was watched by a small crowd with some opponents shouting objections in Arabic.

Police said in a written decision that security risks “were not of a nature that could justify, under current laws, a decision to reject the request” for the protest.

Mr Kristersson on Wednesday said he would not speculate on how the protest could affect the Nato membership process. He said it was up to the police whether to permit such rallies.

Gatherings outside the Turkish and Iraqi embassies were banned in February when it appeared the Quran would be burned.

Security police had warned that the protests might lead to attacks against Sweden.

However, a court ruled in April that police concerns did not override the right to free expression and assembly.

It said the security threat was not “sufficiently concrete” to justify a ban on the gatherings in question.

Mr Momika said he was one of those who had a protest blocked in February.

“I want to protest in front of the large mosque in Stockholm, and I want to express my opinion about the Quran … I will tear up the Quran and burn it,” Mr Momika wrote in an application seen by AFP.

Reports on Wednesday said police had called in reinforcements from across the country to maintain order in Stockholm.

The Quran-burning in January by far-right politician Rasmus Paludan was condemned by countries including the UAE.

Turkey, which has held up Sweden's Nato bid for more than a year over various grievances, said it could not go forward if Quran-burning was condoned.

An aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the time that Sweden “must wake up to the reality of terror groups intent on preventing Sweden’s Nato membership by poisoning their relationship with us”.

Finland, which applied simultaneously with Sweden, joined Nato in April after Turkey lifted its veto.

Updated: June 29, 2023, 4:15 PM