The burning of a Koran in Sweden causes a stir in Muslim countries

The burning of a Koran in Sweden causes a stir in Muslim countries

► Why did the Swedish police authorize this action?

Behind a cordon of police ensuring his protection, Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi who fled his country for Sweden, slips slices of bacon between the pages of a Koran, tramples it and tears off pages before putting the fire. A provocative gesture on the first day of Eid-El-Adha, the most important holiday in the Muslim calendar. And perceived as extremely insulting by Muslim believers for whom the consumption of pork is prohibited and who pay particular attention to the handling of their sacred text.

This action took place with the agreement of the Swedish authorities. A police spokeswoman said her services were “able to maintain order and security”. The Scandinavian country authorizes this kind of action and only deals with it under a security aspect. In February, two burnings of the Koran were banned in Stockholm for risk of disturbing public order. On appeal, an administrative court found that this ban violated the constitutional right to demonstrate.

► What is the purpose of this gesture?

Salwan Momika, who calls himself a Christian from Iraq, explains that he wants ” express (her) opinion about the Quran », which he would like to see banned in Sweden. In an interview granted to the Swedish press, he affirms that the holy book of Islam is “dangerous for Swedish values” And “encourages terrorism”. Already last January, far-right activist Rasmus Paludan burned a Koran in front of the Turkish Embassy to, according to him, defend freedom of expression and fight against “Islamization” from the country.

This gesture had provoked a diplomatic crisis with Turkey. Salwan Momika claims not to want harm this country which (there) welcomed and who preserved (her) dignity “but his gesture only complicates things in the face of Ankara’s blocking of Sweden’s NATO membership.

► How do Muslim countries react?

Diplomatic reactions have been numerous since Wednesday, especially from countries with a Muslim majority who denounce a ” provocation “ and an “incitement to hatred”. In a press release, the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs announces the recall of his ambassador and denounces “repeated provocations, committed under the complacent gaze of the Swedish government”.

The Iraqi government does not hesitate to speak of“racist acts”. At a rally called by influential Shiite religious leader Moqtada Al Sadr, protesters briefly entered the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on Thursday afternoon. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched: “We will teach arrogant Westerners that insulting Muslims is not free speech. » His Minister of Foreign Affairs, for his part, judges this gesture “unacceptable”.

While Sweden is dependent on Turkey’s approval to join NATO, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson says he has “the impression that these are deliberate provocations”, adding that “Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s appropriate”. The United States joined in the criticism by announcing that “burning religious texts is disrespectful and offensive”while hoping to see Sweden join NATO “as soon as possible”.

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