The burning of a copy of the Holy Quran at a rally in Stockholm, Sweden on Saturday has drawn vehement condemnation from Muslim nations.
Rasmus Paludan, the head of the Danish far-right political group Hard Line, burned the Quran. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in April 2022, Paludan’s announcement of a Quran burning “tour” triggered riots all around Sweden.
Paludan, surrounded by police, denounced Islam and immigration in Sweden during a nearly hour-long tirade before setting fire to the holy book with a lighter. According to Al-Jazeera, some 100 people gathered nearby for a nonviolent counter-demonstration.
“You have to live somewhere else if you don’t think there should be freedom of expression,” he remarked.
The Turkish foreign ministry issued a statement in response right away.
Before the incident, the Turkish government had frequently pleaded with the Swedish government to forego approving similar rallies in Stockholm that included the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran.
The anti-Muslim provocative action came after the Turkish government called off the Swedish Defense Minister’s scheduled visit to Ankara. Following the gathering, protesters walked to the streets and chanted anti-Turkish chants, according to MENAFN.
Tensions with Turkey have recently increased at a time when Sweden needs Ankara’s support to join the military alliance. The protest in Stockholm on Saturday against Turkey and Sweden’s attempt to join NATO included the burning of a book of the Quran.
Since Turkey is already a NATO member, it has the power to prevent other nations from joining. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, both Sweden and Finland submitted applications to join NATO. Turkey, however, objected to Sweden and Finland becoming new members of the alliance.
The aggressive protest has further strained ties between Sweden and Turkey, and the majority of the Muslim world has harshly denounced the action, calling it wholly unacceptable for Muslims.
“Burning the Quran, the most sacred text for Muslims, while claiming to be exercising one’s right to free speech is a wicked act. Under the cover of “freedom of expression,” tolerating this anti-Islam conduct that targets Muslims and belittles our cherished ideals is wholly unacceptable, according to a statement from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In Malmo, a city in southern Sweden, far-right demonstrators burned a copy of the Quran in August 2020, setting up protests and chaos.
Over a dozen people were detained during rioters’ clashes with the police and rescue workers.