February 1, 2023

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristerson on Sunday denounced what he called a “grossly disrespectful act” the day after the Koran was burned during a demonstration in Stockholm, expressing his “sympathy” for Muslims following a wave of condemnation in the Islamic world.

“Freedom of speech is an essential part of democracy,” the conservative prime minister tweeted the day before. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate.

He emphasized that “the burning of sacred books is considered by many to be a very disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy to all Muslims who were offended by what happened on Saturday in Stockholm.”

As part of a Swedish police-sanctioned demonstration in front of the Turkish embassy on Saturday afternoon, far-right Swedish-Danish Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Quran to denounce the talks being carried out by Stockholm. with Ankara over Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

And the Swedish police on Friday considered that the constitution and freedom of demonstration and expression in Sweden did not justify a ban on this demonstration under the pretext of maintaining public order.

The permission to stage the demonstration sparked diplomatic tensions with Turkey, which denounced it as a “clear hate crime” and canceled a visit by the Swedish defense minister scheduled for next week, further complicating Sweden’s NATO accession talks, which Ankara is already blocking.

Other Muslim countries condemned the burning of the Koran.

On Sunday, Morocco expressed “surprise that the Swedish authorities allowed this unacceptable act to be carried out in front of the Swedish security forces,” given that “this heinous act, affecting the feelings of more than a billion Muslims, is likely to stir up feelings of anger and hatred between religions. and peoples.”

Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also expressed their condemnation of what happened in Stockholm, in addition to the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

He urged Jakarta to “use freedom of speech responsibly.”

In Turkey, dozens of people gathered on Saturday evening in front of the Swedish consulate in Istanbul to protest. They burned the Swedish flag and called on Ankara to break off diplomatic relations with Stockholm. Others demonstrated outside the Swedish embassy in Ankara.

For his part, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Bilström denounced on Twitter a “terrible anti-Islamic provocation”, stressing that allowing a demonstration does not mean the government supports it.

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