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Thursday, February 29, 2024

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Protestor Burns Koran In Stockholm, Turkey Condemns Act

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As the three day Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha holiday started on Wednesday, a man burned a Muslim’s holy book Koran outside Stockholm’s central mosque on Wednesday. The event which included the participation of the same person apart from his translator was given permission from Swedish police.

In an official statement, the Swedish police announced its decision of security risks related to burning incident “were not of a nature that could justify, under current laws, a decision to reject the request.” However, the Swedish police gave a nod to the demonstrations two weeks after an appellate court denied the police’s decision to reject permission for two demonstrations in Stockholm, one of which was to include burning of Kuran.

The request for protests involved two demonstrations, both involving burning of Koran, one by an individual person and another by an organization outside Turkish and Iraqi embassies in Stockholm in February.

The individual in his request to the police wrote, “I want to protest in front of the large mosque in Stockholm, and I want to express my opinion about the Koran… I will tear up the Koran and burn it.” The application by 37 year old Salwan Momika was secured by AFP.

For security purposes, the police had called for reinforcement.

The Swedish leaders have both criticized the burnings as well as supported the right to freedom of speech and expressions.

The court in the middle of June decided that police’s decision was incorrect as “the order and security problems” cited by them did not involve “a sufficiently clear connection to the planned event or its immediate vicinity.”

The police’s renewed decision to permit the demonstrations was made in compliance with the right of freedom of speech while maintaining that the protests do not pose any security risk.

However, at the time of court hearing on the incident, police warned of security risks, citing the incident of burning of Koran outside Turkey’s embassy in January. The incident sparked protests that went on for weeks and called for boycott of Swedish goods. This hampered Swedish bid for a NATO membership.

Turkey’s twin objection to Sweden

Eid al-Adha is an important festival in the Muslim calendar. The Koran burning incident has angered Turkey as it stands against the Scandinavian country for its bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  It has also criticized the Swedish authorities for approving the Koran burning event, which has come days before NATO’s summit in July.

Such anti-Islamic sentiments and events have angered Turkey, which is an important member whose approval Sweden needs to get NATO membership. Sweden required NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Turkey claims that Sweden harbours terrorists groups, like Kurdish groups, and has also condemned Stockholm of not taking action against these groups and has therefore got offended with the police’s decision to allow such demonstrations that anger Muslim community.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in a tweet condemned the Koran burning act and said that even in the name of freedom of expression the act is unacceptable as it allows anti-Islam protests.

Deputy spokesperson for the US State Department Vedant Patel urged Turkey and Hungary to change the NATO accession protocol of Sweden without as soon as possible. He said, “We believe Sweden has fulfilled its commitments under the trilateral memorandum.”

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