Iraq on Thursday issued a threat to sever diplomatic ties with Sweden in response to Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika’s planned intention to burn another copy of the Quran, after previously burning a copy outside Stockholm’s largest mosque during Eid al-Adha week. In protest, the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was set on fire early that day.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was set on fire during a protest orchestrated by supporters of religious leader Moqtada al-Sadr. This demonstration followed an event planned in Stockholm, where a copy of the Koran as well as the Iraqi flag were to be burned in front of the Iraqi embassy, with the authorization of the Swedish police.
It was only after the intervention of several civil defense trucks that the fire was finally brought under control. Security forces, deployed in large numbers, used water cannons and electric batons to disperse protesters. The extent of the damage remains to be assessed, according to the Iraqi Minister of the Interior. On the other hand, about 20 participants were arrested and will be brought to justice.
For its part, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the staff of the embassy was “safe” and “in regular contact” with officials. Calm was only restored after a few hours of tension between the demonstrators and the riot police in front of the embassy.
In response to the incident, the Iraqi charge d’affaires in Stockholm was summoned Thursday morning. As for Tobias Billström, the head of Swedish diplomacy condemned this act as ” totally unacceptable“.
Referring to previous burnings, the Iraqi government also responded by warning that it ” would sever diplomatic relations with Sweden in the event of a new burning of the Koran in Stockholm, according to a press release from the services of Prime Minister Mohamed Chia al-Soudani. He denounced these gestures provocateurs ” which consist of ” incitement to a culture of violence and hatred“.
Indeed, the gesture of Salwan Momika, who burned a copy of the Koran last June 28 in Stockholm with the authorization of the Swedish government, had aroused a volley of international condemnations. Morocco, for example, recalled its ambassador to Sweden for indefinite consultation on very high royal instructions in response to this act of deliberate desecration of the Holy Quran.
” Whatever the political positions or differences that may exist between countries, the Kingdom considers it unacceptable that the faith of Muslims should be flouted in this way. Nor can the principles of tolerance and the values of universalism be reduced to accommodating the views of some while showing so little regard for the beliefs of over a billion Muslims“, underlined a press release from the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.