Sweden govt condemns 'Islamophobic' Quran burning: Ministry

AFP , Sunday 2 Jul 2023

Sweden's government on Sunday condemned this week's burning of a Koran outside Stockholm's main mosque, calling it an "Islamophobic" act, after an international Islamic body called for measures to avoid future burnings.

A cleric holds a Koran outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on June 30, 2023 for a second day of protests against a Koran burning outside a Stockholm mosque that outraged Muslims around the world. AFP


"The Swedish Government fully understands that the Islamophobic acts committed by individuals at demonstrations in Sweden can be offensive to Muslims," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"We strongly condemn these acts, which in no way reflect the views of the Swedish government," it added.

The condemnation came in response to a call for collective measures to avoid future Koran burnings from the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The 57-member body met at its Jeddah headquarters to respond to Wednesday's incident in which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Islamic holy book and set several pages alight.

The OIC urged member states to "take unified and collective measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents of desecration of copies of the" Koran, according a statement released after the "extraordinary" meeting.

"The burning of the Koran, or any other holy text, is an offensive and disrespectful act and a clear provocation. Expressions of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Sweden or in Europe," the Swedish foreign ministry said.

At the same time the ministry added that Sweden has a "constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration."

Countries including Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco have summoned Swedish ambassadors in protest at the Koran burning incident.

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 and ethnic group," noting that Momika had burnt pages from the Islamic holy book very close to the mosque.

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