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Sweden to boost border controls after Quran burnings

August 1, 2023 at 7:29 pm

People take part in a protest against the burning of Holy Quran in Denmark and Sweden in Sanaa, Yemen on July 24, 2023. [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

Threats to Sweden have increased after recent Quran burnings, the country’s government said on Tuesday, adding it had strengthened border controls to give police wider authority to stop and search people, as a result, Reuters reports.

A new law, effective from the start of August, gives police extended powers to perform checks on and around the country’s borders, including body searches, and allows for increased electronic surveillance.

“Border controls are a measure that gives us the conditions to identify people coming into Sweden who could represent a threat to security,” Justice Minister, Gunnar Strommer, told a news conference.

Sweden and Denmark have seen a string of protests in recent weeks, in which copies of the Quran were burned or otherwise damaged, prompting outrage in Muslim countries and demands that the Nordic governments put a stop to the burnings.

READ: Sweden minister: Quran burnings damage security, countrys image

More Quran burnings took place on Monday and both countries said they were examining ways to legally limit such acts in a bid to de-escalate tensions.

Danish security police said on Monday that, like in Sweden, the country was seeing an elevated risk of attacks as a result of the crisis.

On Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, said the situation was “dangerous”, “complicated” and “used by people who wanted Sweden harm,” including by Russia who may be using the situation to its advantage.

“It may be to prevent a Swedish NATO accession,” Kristersson told the news conference.

Sweden applied to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but the application is yet to be ratified by the Turkish Parliament.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said he would work to get Sweden’s application approved, but also warned it would not happen as long as copies of the Quran were being burnt in Sweden.

Kristersson said it was important to de-escalate the situation and urged people to use freedom of speech responsibly and respectfully.

The Swedish government was also looking into changes that could allow police to stop Quran burnings in public if they posed a threat to national security, the PM said.

Still, he added, sweeping changes to freedom of speech laws were not on the table.

READ: Denmark will continue close dialogue with Muslim countries over Quran burnings