Man burns Quran outside mosque in Sweden; Iran, Saudi Arabia react sharply

The mosque of Stockholm. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Two men stood outside Stockholm’s central mosque last week and burned a Quran, following the go-ahead given by a Swedish court, to coincide with the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The man who had requested permission for the action, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee who wants the book banned, tore out pages from the Quran, wiped them on his shoe and set some of them on fire, Swedish public broadcaster SVT said.

Around 200 people gathered to watch, including counterprotesters. One man was detained after he tried to throw a rock.

Permission was given by a court on Wednesday. Sweden rarely bans protests, even ones that might be considered forms of incitement in other countries.

The burning of the Islamic religious book took place during Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest days of the year for Muslims.

The book burning may further jeopardize Sweden’s attempts to overcome Turkey’s opposition to its NATO membership bid.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to a previous Quran burning by saying Sweden should not join the alliance.

Iran Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian said that Tehran had put on hold the appointment of a new ambassador to Sweden.

He said that the administrative details had been completed, but the new diplomat would not be taking up the Stockholm post for the time being.

Saudi Arabia also summoned the Swedish ambassador to condemn the burning of the Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm that caused international outrage and diplomatic backlash, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.

The Kingdom had on Wednesday issued a statement denouncing an extremist who burnt and stomped on the Quran.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden and informs her of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s categorical rejection of the disgraceful act carried out by an extremist who burned a copy of the Holy Quran,” Saud Arabia said in a statement.

“The Ministry calls upon the Swedish government to stop all acts that directly contradict international efforts to spread the values of tolerance, moderation and rejection of extremism and undermine the mutual respect necessary for relations between peoples and countries,” said the statement.

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