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Swedish police approve small anti-Quran demonstration at mosque

June 28, 2023 at 3:25 pm

Salwan Momika protests outside a mosque in Stockholm on June 28, 2023 [JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images]

Swedish police have given the go-ahead for a small demonstration to take place outside a Stockholm mosque on Wednesday at which the organisers said they would “tear up the Quran and burn it”, which could further complicate Sweden’s bid to join NATO, reports Reuters.

A series of protests in Sweden against Islam and for Kurdish rights have heightened tensions with Turkey, whose backing Sweden needs to gain entry to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

While Swedish police have rejected several recent applications for anti-Quran demonstrations, the country’s courts have overruled those decisions, arguing that they infringed on protected freedom of speech.

In its permit for Wednesday’s demonstration, the police wrote that while it “may have foreign policy consequences”, the security risks and consequences linked to a Quran burning were not of such a nature that the application should be rejected.

Only two people were expected to take part in the demonstration, according to the Stockholm police, including the organiser, Salwan Momika, who in a recent newspaper interview described himself as an Iraqi refugee seeking to ban the Quran.

Turkey in late January suspended talks with Sweden on its NATO application after Rasmus Paludan, leader of Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Quran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Paludan was not expected to take part in Wednesday’s demonstration.

Several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait also denounced the January Quran-burning.

The Turkish embassy in Stockholm was not immediately available for a comment.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson earlier on Wednesday said that his country still wanted to join NATO before or at its summit in Vilnius next month although it was not certain it would be able to do so by then.

READ: Turkish foreign minister condemns burning of Muslim holy book Quran in Sweden