International

Sweden Police Grant Permission For 'Quran Burning Protest' Outside Stockholm's Mosque Ahead Of Bakrid

A man tore up and burned a Quran outside Stockholm's central mosque, potentially jeopardizing Sweden's bid to join NATO ahead of the bloc's key summit in July. The man was later charged with agitation against an ethnic or national group and violating a ban on fires. The Swedish police had given permission for a small demonstration that involved tearing up and burning the Quran.

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Sweden Quran burnings
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A man tore up and burned a Quran outside Stockholm's central mosque on Wednesday, in a move that may jeopardize its bid to join the NATO before the bloc’s key summit in July.

Police later charged the man with agitation against an ethnic or national group and a violation of a ban on fires. Swedish police had given permission 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. 

According to a report by Reuters, the Swedish 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.

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Ttwo 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. 

Around 200 onlookers witnessed one of the two organisers tearing up pages of a copy of the Quran and wiping his shoes with it before putting bacon in it and setting the book on fire, whilst the other protester spoke into a megaphone, the Reuters report said.

In late January this year, Turkey had suspended talks with Sweden regarding its NATO application after a Danish far-right politician burned a copy of the Quran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

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Turkish foreign minister Hakan Fidan condemned the act in a tweet, saying that was unacceptable to allow anti-Islam protests in the name of freedom of expression.

NATO requires the unanimous approval of all members to expand. Turkey accuses Sweden of being too lenient on groups that Ankara says pose a security threat, including militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.

Fearing they might be targeted by Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland abandoned their traditional positions of military nonalignment to seek protection under NATO's security umbrella.

Hungary is also delaying its approval of Sweden's candidacy but has never clearly stated publicly what its concerns are. NATO officials expect that it will follow suit once Turkey lifts its objections.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that he has called a meeting of senior officials from Turkey, Sweden and Finland on July 6 to try to overcome Turkish objections to Sweden joining the military organisation.

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