'Violent riot' at Quran desecration in Sweden

Some protesters threw rocks at anti-Islam activist Salwan Momika

Anti-Islam activist Salwan Momika (centre) has staged a number of protests in Sweden. EPA
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Violent protests erupted at a Quran desecration demonstration in Sweden where an Iraqi refugee was trying to burn the holy book.

Two people were arrested and about 10 more detained in connection with violence in the southern city of Malmo after the latest in a string of protests by anti-Islam activist Salwan Momika which have previously garnered international outrage.

“Some onlookers have shown upset feelings after the organiser burnt writings,” police said on Sunday.

“The mood was at times heated,” the statement said, adding that a “violent riot” had occurred at 1.45pm local time.

Some protesters threw rocks at Mr Momika and tried to break through a security cordon before being stopped by police.

One man tried to stop a police car that was transporting Mr Momika from the location by getting in front of it.

About 10 people were detained for disturbing the public order and another two were arrested, suspected of violent rioting, police said.

Sunday's protest was held in a square in Malmo, a city with a significant Muslim population.

Mr Momika's Quran desecrations have sparked anger towards Sweden and increased diplomatic tensions with several countries.

Sweden has condemned the desecrations but also noted that they are constitutionally protected freedom of speech.

In mid-August, Sweden's intelligence agency heightened its terror alert level to four on a scale of five. It said Sweden had “gone from being considered a legitimate target for terrorist attacks to being considered a prioritised target.”

Iraqi protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad twice in July, starting fires within the compound on the second occasion.

Swedish envoys have also been summoned in several Middle Eastern nations.

In late August, neighbouring Denmark, which has also seen a string of public desecrations of the Islamic holy book, said it plans to ban Quran burnings.

Sweden has also vowed to explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of texts in certain circumstances.

Sweden also decided to strengthen border controls in early August.

Updated: September 03, 2023, 4:32 PM