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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Saudi summons Swedish ambassador over Quran burning

The kingdom -- home to the holiest sites in Islam, in Mecca and Medina -- had already condemned Wednesday's incident in which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Muslim holy book and set several pages alight.

Saudi Arabia has summoned Sweden’s ambassador to denounce a Koran burning outside a Stockholm mosque that sparked a diplomatic backlash across the Muslim world, state media reported early Monday.

The kingdom — home to the holiest sites in Islam, in Mecca and Medina — had already condemned Wednesday’s incident in which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Muslim holy book and set several pages alight.

Read more: UN Alliance of Civilizations slams horrific Quran burning incident in Sweden

The foreign ministry summoned the ambassador on Sunday to urge Sweden “to stop all actions that directly contradict international efforts seeking to spread the values of tolerance, moderation and rejection of extremism, and undermine the necessary mutual respect for relations between peoples and states”, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Momika’s Koran burning coincided with the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday and the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, triggering widespread anger.

Countries including Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco have also summoned Swedish ambassadors in protest.

Iran said on Sunday it was holding off on sending its new ambassador to Sweden because of the incident.

At an extraordinary meeting on Sunday at its Jeddah headquarters, the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation called for collective measures to avoid future Koran burnings.

Read more: Quran burning incident in Sweden ignites global condemnation

Swedish police had granted Momika a permit in line with free speech protections, but authorities later said they had opened an investigation over “agitation against an ethnic group”, noting that Momika had burnt pages from the Islamic holy book very close to the mosque.

Sweden’s government condemned Momika’s actions on Sunday, calling them “Islamophobic”.