Iraqi security forces guard the graffiti-covered entrance to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad after protesters reportedly breached the building briefly over the burning of the Koran by an Iraqi living in Sweden, on June 29, 2023. AFP
The demonstrators, supporters of firebrand Shia Muslim leader Moqtada Sadr, entered the building and remained inside for about 15 minutes before leaving peacefully as security forces deployed, the photographer said.
The protesters first rallied outside the embassy in response to a call by Sadr who demanded the removal of the Swedish ambassador, echoing outrage in several Muslim countries over the Quran burning Wednesday in Stockholm.
The demonstrators also distributed leaflets that carried messages in Arabic and English that said: "Our constitution is the Quran. Our leader is Al-Sadr".
"Yes, yes to the Quran," was also scrawled on the gate leading to the embassy, according to the photographer.
Sadr's supporters also torched rainbow flags that represent the LGBTQ community, after the powerful cleric suggested this would be "the best way to provoke" those who back Quran burnings.
Stockholm's foreign ministry said in a statement it was "well informed about the situation. Our embassy staff are safe."
Salwan Momika, 37, who fled to Sweden from Iraq several years ago, stomped on the Quran before setting several pages alight in front of Stockholm's largest mosque.
He had been granted a special permit from the police for the protest in line with free-speech protections.
The Iraqi foreign ministry has said such acts would only "inflame" the feelings of Muslims around the world.