Iraq expels Swedish ambassador over Koran burning

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The diplomatic crisis between Sweden and Iraq over the authorization to burn the Qur'an in Stockholm and the fire set by Iraqi protesters at the Swedish embassy in Baghdad is worsening by the minute and the Iraqi government has even threatened to break off diplomatic relations if a second copy of the Muslim holy book is burned, as scheduled within several weeks.

In fact, Baghdad announced the withdrawal of its charge d'affaires from Sweden and asked the Swedish ambassador to leave Iraqi territory, in response to the "repeated authorization" by the Nordic country to "burn the noble Koran, insult Islamic sanctities and burn the Iraqi flag".

However, the Iraqi government did not specify the level at which diplomatic relations will remain, although it had warned hours before that it would break relations with Sweden "if the Koran is burned again on its territory." "Iraq condemns the insistence by the Swedish authorities on positions so provocative of the beliefs and sanctities of others," said the Executive of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohamed Shia al Sudani, referring to the first authorization, in June, of the burning of the Muslim holy book in Stockholm.

The Iraqi government also condemns the burning of the Swedish embassy

Al Sudani condemned, on the other hand, the burning of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad by hundreds of Iraqi protesters as a "violation of security" of diplomatic missions, and promised to punish those responsible and "refer negligent security agents to investigation to take legal action against them".

Shortly afterwards, the Iraqi justice system ordered the arrest of twenty people allegedly involved in the burning of the Swedish diplomatic legation, an action that the Government of Sweden described as "completely unacceptable" and announced that it was summoning the Iraqi diplomatic representative in Stockholm.

"The Iraqi authorities have an unequivocal obligation to protect diplomatic missions and diplomatic personnel under the Vienna Convention. It is clear that the Iraqi authorities have seriously failed in this responsibility," Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said in a statement. He stressed that his country's embassy staff "fortunately managed to get to safety" after the aggression by Iraqi protesters, and that "the government is now reviewing what additional measures should be taken due to what happened."

Economic retaliation against Swedish companies

The Iraqi government has already taken economic measures and its decisions against Sweden have been supported by Parliament and the different political and religious groups in the Arab country. "It has been decided to suspend the license for the Swedish company Ericsson Telecom to operate on Iraqi territory," said the head of the Iraqi Communications and Media Authority, Ali al Moayed.

That decision was announced shortly after the Iraqi Communications Minister, Hayam al Yasiri, ordered "to prohibit all kinds of dealings" of her department and "its formations with all Swedish companies."

The president of Iraq, the Kurdish Abdelatif Rashid, accused Sweden of "complicating the problem" of relations with Baghdad for "the irresponsible behavior of trying to repeat the aggression against the Koran and the flag of the Iraqi state." Rashid, however, called on Iraqis to restrain themselves and respect "Iraq's responsibility" in protecting diplomatic missions.

The concentrations of the ultras that burned copies of the Koran are repeated

In Stockholm, protesters who had called for the public burning of a copy of the Koran in front of the Iraqi Embassy yesterday staged an action in which they stepped on the book, although there were no clear signs that they were burning it. One of the conveners of the event, which was attended by several dozen people, some of whom booed the two who displayed the copy of the Koran and an Iraqi flag, was Salwan Momika, of Iraqi origin, according to Swedish media.

The individual had already carried out a similar act, also authorized at the time by the Swedish Police, next to a mosque in Stockholm at the end of last June, which unleashed a series of condemnations, the vast majority from Arab and Islamic countries. The Swedish state news agency, TT, reported that the two people who staged the event apparently set the book on fire with their backs to the cameras of the media reporting the event, but stopped short of actually burning it.

Several Arab and Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Iran, among others, joined the condemnation of Iraq by considering Sweden's authorization of the desecration of the Koran "irresponsible", "provocative" and that it "feeds hatred", and some of them announced that they will convene Swedish diplomatic representatives, their official media reported this Friday.

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