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Source: Iranintl

Jul 27, 2023

Sweden On Edge Over Repercussions Of More Quran Burnings

Author: Iran International Newsroom

Sweden has expressed concerns about the consequences of more events to burn the Quran amid growing anger by the Muslim population.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Thursday that he is "extremely worried" that more demonstrations go ahead in which the Quran is desecrated, further outraging Muslims who have been fuming over a series of attacks on Islam's holy book in Sweden and Denmark.

The incident involved Salwan Momika, an Iraqi immigrant, who burned pages from the Quran in front of the central mosque in Stockholm on the first day of Eid al-Adha late in June, after obtaining a permit from a Swedish court. Some 200 onlookers witnessed him tearing up a copy of the Quran and wiping his shoes with the pages.

He then put bacon on the book and set it on fire whilst another protestor addressed the crowds with a megaphone. Momika repeated the desecration in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on July 20.

The following day, in neighboring Denmark, members of the far-right nationalist group "Danske Patrioter (Danish Patriots)" burned a copy of the Quran in front of Iraq's Embassy in Copenhagen.Kristersson told Swedish news agency TT that further requests had been filed with police for permission to hold protests where desecration of the Quran was again planned.

Sweden Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania July 12, 2023.

"If they are granted, we are going to face some days where there is a clear risk of something serious happening. I am extremely worried about what it could lead to," he said, adding that the decision whether to grant permission for the demonstrations was up to the police.

Sweden's embassy in Baghdad was stormed and set ablaze on July 20 by protesters and Stockholm’s envoys in several countries, including Iran, have been summoned. Iran has announced that it will not accept a Swedish ambassador and has no plans to send a new ambassador to Sweden.

Sweden's security service, SAPO, has kept its assessment of the threat level at 3 on a scale of 5, signifying an "elevated threat" during the crisis. Charlotte von Essen, the head of the Swedish Security Service, told reporters on Thursday, "Sweden has gone from being seen as a tolerant country to being seen as an anti-Islamic land."

People demonstrate against the desecration of the Koran in Denmark, in Sanaa, Yemen July 24, 2023.

On Tuesday, the UN General Assembly passed a Morocco-drafted resolution, deploring ''all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their religious symbols, holy books, homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centers or places of worship, as well as all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines in violation of international law.''

On July 12, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council also passed a motion to condemn the burning of Quran despite nay votes by Western countries, which said it conflicts with their positions on human rights and freedom of expression.

Denmark and Sweden have said they deplore the burning of the Quran but cannot prevent it under rules protecting free speech.

The Swedish government is caught between rock and hard place to balance defending far-reaching freedom of speech laws, while at the same time avoiding potential insult to Muslims.

Also on Thursday, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said, "These are acts committed by individuals, but they do it within the framework of freedom of speech laws. In some countries there is a perception that the Swedish state is behind or condone this.”

Members of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, the biggest party on the right, have repeatedly warned about the "Islamization" of Swedish society and called for immigrants to adopt "Swedish" values.

Iran's Supreme Leader called for the severest punishment for the perpetrators of the Stockholm Quran burning. Ali Mohammadi-Sirat, the Supreme Leader’s man in IRGC’s Quds (Qods) Force -- a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations -- repeated Khamenei’s demands and stressed that these men will not be safe wherever they are

Earlier this month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Commander Hossein Salami also threatened attacks against those responsible for the incident, saying that those who burn or desecrate the Quran will not enjoy security.

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