The Swedish government has criticised the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran by Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist Stram Kurs Party leader, Rasmus Paludan in Stockholm, but defended its decision to greenlight the planned act, Anadolu news agency reported.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Twitter on Saturday.
“Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today,” he added.
For his part, Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Twitter that “Islamophobic provocations are appalling. Sweden has far-reaching freedom of expression, but it does not imply that the Swedish Government, or myself, support the opinions expressed.”
On Saturday, Paludan burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, amid tight police protection that prevented anyone from approaching him while committing the provocative act.
In response to Sweden’s permission, Ankara cancelled Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson’s upcoming visit to Turkey.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned Swedish Ambassador to Ankara Staffan Herrstrom, and informed him that Turkey “strongly condemns this provocative act, which is clearly a hate crime, that Sweden’s attitude is unacceptable, that Ankara expects the act not to be allowed, and insults to sacred values cannot be defended under the guise of democratic rights.”