Swedish police detained a woman for attempting to stop the public desecration of the Quran, raising concerns over Stockholm’s claim of protecting freedom of speech and expression.
Last week, Salwan Momika, a refugee from Iraq, desecrated and burned the Islamic holy book in the latest in a series of anti-Islam protests in Sweden, along with other similar incidents in other Nordic countries, such as Denmark.
In a video circulating on social media, a woman was seen rushing up to Momika and spraying him with a fire extinguisher, before she was rapidly intercepted by police officers and arrested.
🔴 İsveç'te polis kontrolünde Kuran'ı Kerim yakan kişiye yangın tüpü ile müdahale eden bir kadın polis tarafından gözaltına alındı. pic.twitter.com/MOKlGLNVzL
— Conflict (@ConflictTR) August 19, 2023
According to police spokeswoman, Towe Hagg,, the woman – who remained unidentified by police – had been detained on suspicion of disturbing public order and of violence against a police officer.
The recent spate of Quran burnings in Sweden, Denmark and Germany has ignited protests in countries throughout the Muslim world, causing diplomatic and political tensions – particularly in regards to Stockholm – amid calls to ban such demonstrations.
The Swedish government has justified its allowance of Quran burnings by citing freedom of speech and expression, insisting, however, that preventing them would directly oppose those principles.
At the same time, authorities have filed preliminary hate speech charges against Momika, with the Swedish government having announced on Friday an inquiry into legal possibilities for enabling police to reject permits for such demonstrations over national security concerns.
The inquiry, according to Justice Minister, Gunnar Strommer, will study legislation in countries such as France, Norway and the Netherlands, which he said all allow extensive freedom of speech while simultaneously employing “greater scope for including security in this type of assessment”.
As Momika’s Quran burning was carried outside the Iranian embassy in Stockholm last week, the embassy stressed in a statement on Friday that “insulting the Holy Quran and other holy scriptures is condemned.”
Rejecting the Swedish authorities’ justification for allowing the burnings and questioning their validity, it stated that the actions are a strategy by external forces who aim to harm Stockholm’s relations with Iran and other Muslim-majority nations.
“Accordingly, the Swedish government is firmly expected to stop this horrible process of insulting Holy Quran in order to preserve Sweden’s position and good image and also to alleviate the suffering caused in the Islamic world and the entire world as a whole,” the embassy stated.