Stockholm, Koran trampled but not burned. Relations between Sweden and Iraq are inflamed

Stockholm, Koran trampled but not burned.  Relations between Sweden and Iraq are inflamed

In Stockholm, the promised burning of the Koran failed: but in the meantime, relations between Sweden and Iraq have caught fire. Today in the Swedish capital Salwan Momika, 37 years old – the same one who on June 28 burned a copy of the sacred book of Islam in front of Stockholm’s central mosque on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid, unleashing international anger and indignation – has indeed trampled on a copy of Muhammad’s revelations in front of the Iraqi embassy. But according to the local news agency TT, the Christian Iraqi from Mosul with a mysterious and ambiguous past as a militiaman, a refugee in Sweden since 2018 and now an activist of the far-right Swedish Democrats party, has given up on destroying it. It’s not clear whether he failed (images show him holding a lighter and a book scorched on the edge) or he decided at the last minute not to go through with the threat.

Meanwhile, however, at dawn the Swedish embassy in Baghdad had been set on fire during a demonstration organized by supporters of the religious leader Sadr in Moqta precisely to protest against the announced action: and authorized (as indeed the one at the end of June). Yes, because even if in different parts of Sweden, it is forbidden to make fires or burn objects for environmental reasons, “The constitutional right to freedom of expression takes precedence over temporary fire bans” as the police spokesman said Boström Thomas explaining that the police would only intervene in the event of “actual danger and not a threat of danger”. The action prompted the Stockholm government to summon the Iraqi ambassador. In response, in the afternoon, Baghdad expelled the Swedish ambassador, also threatening to “sever relations” with Stockholm if new fires were to occur.

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Iraqi prime minister Mohamed Chia al-Sudani, in fact defined the incident as a “provocative gesture, threat to peace” and also “incitement to a culture of hatred and violence”. In reality, during the assault the Iraqi police intervened with water cannons and electric batons to disperse the crowd and the government invited the security forces to open an “urgent investigation” into the facts. Even if then, during the security meeting chaired by the head of government in Baghdad, a harsh condemnation was expressed for the embassy fire, assuring that those responsible (about twenty already arrested) will be tried.

Reactions were registered all over the world. The European Union wanted to reiterate that “The Commission has always been clear on the fact that manifestations of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Europe, they are not compatible with our values”. The United Nations Mission in Iraq also expressed its opinion on the matter, condemning the fire at the Swedish embassy: “The attack is to be condemned. While the right of peaceful assembly is paramount, the safety of all and compliance with the Vienna Convention must be priorities. Fighting hate speech with violence helps no one”.

The fire in June had already unleashed a wave of condemnations around the world, the governments of several Muslim countries (Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco) had protested, while Iraq had requested the extradition of the protagonist. The United States had also stigmatized the act.


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