Burning of a Koran in Stockholm sparks protests in the Muslim world | International

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Some demonstrators try to gain access to the Swedish Embassy in Iraq, this Thursday in Baghdad.AHMED JALIL (EFE)

The burning of a Koran this Wednesday next to the main mosque in Stockholm has provoked the condemnation of many Muslim countries such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Egypt. The event in the Swedish capital, which was attended by some 200 people, coincided with the celebration of Eid al Adha, one of the most important festivities in the Islamic world. In Iraq, a few hundred protesters briefly stormed the Swedish Embassy building in Baghdad on Thursday. The authorities of the United Arab Emirates and Jordan summoned the Swedish ambassadors in their respective capitals to show their protest. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly criticized what happened in the Swedish capital, which represents a new obstacle in the accession process of the Scandinavian country to NATO.

The protest this Wednesday in Stockholm, in which Salwan Monika, an Iraqi living in Sweden, burned a Koran in the first act of this type authorized by the Swedish police in several months, was carried out with the intention of blowing up the process of accession of the Nordic country to the Atlantic Alliance, which 13 months after its inception is still pending the approval of Turkey and Hungary. The burning of the book in the Swedish capital took place without serious incidents, although one person, who was carrying a stone in his hand, was arrested. The Swedish police decided to deny permission in February to two requests to burn the Koran, alluding to the risks to national security of such acts, but the courts rejected that argument in several instances in subsequent months.

In Baghdad, the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr called a demonstration outside the Swedish Embassy on Thursday. Several hundred people stormed the legation and demanded that the Iraqi government break diplomatic relations with the Nordic country. The concentration initially took place in the vicinity of the embassy, ​​but a group of attendees ended up breaking into the building for a few minutes. Al Sadr, who asked his followers to leave the diplomatic headquarters, called a second mobilization in the same place for Friday, at the end of the prayer. "Burning the flag of the LGTBI community is what annoys them the most, so burn it," the cleric also claimed, in a statement collected by local media.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry expressed its condemnation of the fact that the Swedish authorities allowed a mobilization where the burning of the "sacred" Koran was already planned, to the extent that it is "a serious insult" to Islam. In this sense, he stated that these types of actions are a "provocation" for Muslims and urged all governments to put an end to these "unacceptable acts" and put an end to "any form of hatred and extremism." The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council ordered the Prosecutor's Office to initiate proceedings to request Salwan Monika's extradition from Sweden.

"A monstrous crime"

More than a dozen Muslim countries showed their rejection through various statements published this Thursday. Saudi Arabia condemned “hostile acts that incite racism”; “a monstrous crime”, defined it by the Tunisian government; “a shameful provocation to the Muslim world”, according to Egypt; "An action incompatible with religious freedom," criticized the Bahraini Foreign Ministry...

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared Thursday in Brussels that "offensive" and "reprehensible" actions like Wednesday's in the Swedish capital "are not necessarily illegal in the sovereign legal system." "I do not like [ese tipo de actos], but I defend the right to disagree. This is part of freedom of expression”, commented the Norwegian. In any case, the NATO Secretary General pointed out that the "important" thing for him is to advance in the process of joining the Swedish transatlantic organization, which is still pending Turkey and Hungary's approval.

The burning of a copy of the Koran last January in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm has already sparked a wave of protests abroad, including those in Ankara, which suspended negotiations for Sweden's accession to the Alliance. Erdogan, who is demanding from the Nordic country the extradition of 130 Turkish citizens whom he accuses of "terrorism", declared this Thursday in a television appearance that he will show "arrogant Westerners that insulting Muslims is not freedom of expression".

For its part, the Hungarian Parliament did not include the vote on Sweden's accession to NATO in its last scheduled session before the summer break, so it cannot be held before September, thus preventing any possibility of the country's integration Scandinavian take place at the Alliance's annual summit to be held in Vilnius (Lithuania) on 11 and 12 July.

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