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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Third Quran burned outside Swedish parliament

The country’s prime minister has said the demonstrations invite terrorism and its embassies have been attacked

Iraqi immigrants staged another Quran burning in Stockholm on Monday, kicking and stomping on the Muslim holy book before setting some torn-out pages on fire outside the Swedish parliament building, according to AFP.

“I will continue until they ban this book,” Salwan Momika, a Christian refugee who sought political asylum in Sweden in 2018, told Swedish broadcaster SVT.

Read more: Sweden’s security under strain after Quran desecrations

It was the third Quran burning carried out by Momika and his partner Salwan Najem, both of whom are currently under investigation for hate speech by Swedish authorities. They previously burned the Quran on the Muslim holiday of Eid outside Stockholm’s Grand Mosque. Momika also stomped on the Quran and wiped his shoes with the Iraqi flag outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm earlier this month.

While Najem became a Swedish citizen in 2005, seven years after arriving in the country, Momika’s three-year residence permit is reportedly in danger of being revoked. Swedish authorities who began probing his social media after the first Quran burning found he had played a leading role in a Christian militia group said to be allied with Iran – even though the militia fought against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terror group.

The international fallout from the protests has been swift – Iraq cut diplomatic ties with Sweden, multiple Muslim-majority nations have summoned their Swedish ambassadors to complain, and counter-protesters have swarmed Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad twice. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned Stockholm that “those who have insulted the Holy Quran deserve the severest punishment.”

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told Swedish news outlet TT last week that the Security Service had information that Sweden was now being “d” as a target for terrorism. “We are in the most serious security policy situation since the Second World War,” he warned in an Instagram post on Sunday.

Read more: Sweden blames Moscow for outrage over Quran-burning stunts

The PM said he was “deeply concerned” that permit applications for further Quran-desecrating protests were flooding into police headquarters. Authorities are only allowed to refuse such requests if there were “serious public disturbances” or a “considerable danger” to participants at previous similar gatherings under Swedish law.

A planned burning of the Torah in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm did not go ahead on Friday after Israel’s foreign minister warned his Swedish counterpart it would harm relations between the two countries.

Denmark’s foreign minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen revealed on Sunday that Copenhagen was working on outlawing Quran desecration – or defiling any religion’s holy book – in front of foreign embassies, saying the government was determined to find a solution that did not also curtail freedom of expression.