May 28, 2024

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Sweden: A man burns pages of the Koran in front of the largest mosque in Stockholm

Sweden: A man burns pages of the Koran in front of the largest mosque in Stockholm

A man burned pages of the Koran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque in a “rally” sanctioned by Swedish police on Wednesday, angering Ankara, which condemned the “unacceptable” act.

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The new incident could cloud Swedish prospects for NATO membership, which Turkey is blocking.

The event, which coincided with the Eid al-Adha festival celebrated by Muslims around the world, brought together around a hundred spectators and journalists.

Wearing brown chinos and a light shirt, Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi who fled his country to Sweden, repeatedly stomped on the Koran, slipped pieces of pork into it and burned some pages, according to AFP reporters. Place.

Photo: AFP

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan immediately condemned the incident on Twitter: “It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression”.

The Nordic country is materially sensitive. A demonstration in January in which a Koran was burned in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm had already angered Ankara and the Muslim world, leading to demonstrations and calls to boycott Swedish products.

“It’s crazy, it’s absolutely crazy, it’s just hatred hiding behind the concepts of democracy and freedom,” responded Noah Omran, a 32-year-old artist who attended the scene.

Earlier, the police announced that they would authorize the gathering, deeming the security risks of Koran burning “not prohibitive”. But at the end of the day, he announced that he would file a complaint against the organizer, specifically for inciting hatred.

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Salwan Momika, the organizer of the book burning, said in his request for prior authorization that he wanted to “express (his) opinion about the Quran”. “I will tear up the Koran and burn it,” he wrote.

In February Mr. Momika had made a similar request, which was rejected by the police.

Photo: AFP

According to an article in Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet dated April 5, Mr. Momika promised that this request would not make it difficult for Sweden to join the Atlantic alliance.

“I don’t want to harm this country that welcomed me and saved my dignity,” he told the newspaper, adding that he wanted to see the Koran banned in Sweden.

Photo: AFP

Disruption of public order

Stockholm police refused two rallies in February – including one started by Mr Momika – where copies of Islam’s holy book were planned to be burned, citing the risks of confused onlookers.

In the process, the demonstrators appealed the decision, believing that their constitutional right to protest had been violated.

An administrative court found them guilty in early April.

In mid-June, the Administrative Court of Appeal upheld the ruling in the first instance, indicating that the security risks presented by the police “did not have a sufficiently clear connection” to the gatherings in question.

It was on this basis that Swedish police made their decision on Wednesday, days ahead of the Vilnius summit on July 11 and 12, where Stockholm hopes to make progress on joining NATO.

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Ankara is blocking Sweden’s NATO initiative, which requires a unanimous green light from alliance members, over what it sees as Stockholm’s inability to crack down on Swedish-based Kurdish groups it considers ‘terrorists’.

The talks will bring together representatives of both countries in Brussels on July 6, the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, announced on Wednesday.