Two men burned a copy of the Koran on Monday (July 31) outside Parliament in Stockholm, in a rally similar to previous protests that have stoked tensions between Sweden and the Muslim world.
Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee, and Salwan Najem trampled on a copy of the Koran before setting it on fire, as they had done at the end of June in front of the great mosque in Stockholm, noted an AFP journalist.
These two men had organized another rally on July 20, in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, during which they had desecrated the holy book without burning it. The organizers have repeatedly declared that they want the Koran to be banned outright.
“I will burn it many times, until you forbid it”, had confided Salwan Najem, 37, to the newspaper Expressen, ahead of the rally. These desecrations, which have multiplied in recent months in Sweden, have caused tensions in the Muslim world.
The Swedish police, who grant the permits, always insist that they are given in the name of freedom of assembly, while stressing that they do not amount to condoning what may happen there.
An argument that does not seem convincing: Saudi Arabia and Iraq have called for an extraordinary meeting, expected Monday, of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to deal with the desecration of the Koran in Sweden and Denmark.
In a statement, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said he had been in contact with several of his counterparts, and stressed that he rejected “any Islamophobic act carried out by individuals”.
But diplomatic tensions are at their height: in Baghdad, after the first burning of the Koran by Salwan Momika and his acolyte, hundreds of Iraqis invaded and set fire to the Swedish embassy. The ambassador was expelled from Iraq and Iran, some time later, said that it would not accept a new ambassador from the Scandinavian country on its territory.
The ostentatious destruction of the holy book of Islam has also “increased the risks for Sweden” and Swedes, the country’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson noted in an Instagram post on Sunday.
On the Danish side, where similar events took place, the government has announced that it wants to limit the burning of the Koran, highlighting the security problems involved.
In Sweden, a similar process is being considered, according to the Prime Minister, who noted that his country was in a “the most serious security situation since the Second World War”.
“We know that states, state-like actors and individuals can take advantage” of these events, playing into the hands of extremists and sowing division, Ulf Kristersson said in a message posted on Instagram. In January, a right-wing extremist also burned the Koran to denounce Sweden’s candidacy for NATO and the negotiations started with Turkey for this purpose.
After centuries of non-alignment, Sweden, like Finland, decided to join the Atlantic Alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but unlike its Nordic neighbor it is still waiting. a ratification by Turkey and Hungary.