Sweden police again grant permit for 'Koran burning protest'

AFP , Monday 31 Jul 2023

Swedish police have granted a permit for a protest outside parliament on Monday in which the organisers plan to burn the Koran, according to local media.

Shiite Muslims shout anti-Sweden slogans during a procession on the tenth day of Ashura in the Islamic month of Muharram, in Rawalpindi on July 29, 2023. AFP


The protesters told media they wanted to see the Muslim holy book banned in Sweden.

"I will burn it many times, until you ban it," organiser Salwan Najem told Expressen newspaper.

Najem had joined Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika at two previous such protests in Stockholm -- outside the city's main mosque and later outside Iraq's embassy,

The protest was scheduled for 1:00 pm (1100 GMT) on Monday, according to the police permit.

Sweden has seen its diplomatic relations with several Middle Eastern nations strained over previous protests involving Koran desecrations.

AFP requested a copy of the application in addition to the permit from police, but did not immediately get a response.

Swedish police have previously stressed they only grant permits for people to hold public gatherings and not for the activities conducted during the events.

In late June, Momika, 37, set pages of the Koran alight outside Stockholm's main mosque.

A month later, he staged a similar protest outside the Iraqi embassy, stomping on the Koran but leaving before burning it.

Both incidents led to widespread outrage and condemnation.

Last week, Sweden ordered 15 government bodies including the armed forces, several law enforcement agencies and the tax office to strengthen anti-terrorism efforts.

On Sunday, neighbouring Denmark said it would explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of holy texts, citing security concerns following backlash over incidents that saw the Koran desecrated in the country.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said a similar process was already underway.

Both Sweand Danish envoys have been summoned in a slew of Middle Eastern nations.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have called for a meeting, expected to be held on Monday, of the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to address Koran desecrations in both Sweden and Denmark.

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