Turkey flays burning of Quran during far-right protest in Sweden

The act has drawn strong condemnation from the Muslim world amid escalating tension between Sweden and Turkey.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top press aide, Fahrettin Altun, urged Sweden to “immediately act” against hatred-filled provocations. File photo

A day after protests in Stockholm, which included the burning of Quran by an anti-Islamic extremist, Turkey on Sunday denounced Sweden and dubbed the burning of the holy book as a “vile act”.

‘Provocative action’ draws ire from Muslim world

The protests have sparked massive outrage and drew strong condemnation from the Muslim world amid escalating tensions with Turkey which cancelled a planned visit by the Swedish defence minister over the demonstration.

Turkish officials also flayed the permission granted to Rasmus Paludan, a right-wing Swedish-Danish politician, to stage a demonstration in front of its embassy in the Swedish capital on Saturday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top press aide, Fahrettin Altun, urged Sweden to “immediately act” against hatred-filled provocations.

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The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation bloc said the “provocative action… targets Muslims, insults their sacred values, and serves as further example of the alarming level reached by Islamophobia” and asked Sweden to punish those behind a “hate crime”.

Saudi Arabia underscored “the importance of spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence and rejecting hatred and extremism”.

The UAE said it was against “all practices aimed at destabilising security and stability in contravention of human and moral values and principles”. The Gulf Cooperation Council also flayed the protest.

Also read: Riots in Sweden after Quran burning by far-right activists

Turkey summons Swedish envoy

Turkey had already summoned Sweden’s ambassador to Ankara on Saturday to “condemn this provocative action which is clearly a hate crime — in strongest terms”, a diplomatic source said. It also appealed Sweden to act tough against the perpetrators and gave a call to all countries to initiate concrete measures against Islamophobia.

Turkish officials took to Twitter on Saturday to condemn Paludan’s plans to burn the Quran. Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for Turkey’s president, called it a hateful crime against humanity.

On the other hand, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said, “Islamophobic provocations are appalling. Sweden has a far-reaching freedom of expression, but it does not imply that the Swedish government, or myself, support the opinions expressed.”

All about Rasmus Paludan

Rasmus Paludan is a far-right extremist and Danish-Swedish politician who heads Denmark’s far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party.

He has organised several events where the Quran was burned, leading to counter-protests marked by violence and burning of cars. Last week, he burnt the effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Stockholm.

In the permit he obtained from police, it says his protest was held against Islam and what it called Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to influence freedom of expression in Sweden.

During the holy month of Ramzan last year, Paludan announced he will embark on a “Quran burning tour” and started burning the holy book in places with sizable population of Muslims. It had sparked riots across Sweden.

 

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