Iraqi protesters have breached Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad, angered by a Qur’an burning outside a Stockholm mosque that sparked condemnation across the Muslim world.
A crowd of supporters of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr stayed inside the compound for about 15 minutes, then left as security forces deployed, an AFP photographer said.
“Our constitution is the Qur’an,” read a message on leaflets carried by the protesters, and a message sprayed on the compound’s gate read: “Yes, yes to the Qur’an”.
The protest came a day after an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Islamic holy book and set several pages alight in front of the capital’s largest mosque.
Swedish police had granted him a permit in line with free-speech protections, but authorities later also said they had opened an investigation over “agitation”.
The Qur’an burning sparked anger across and beyond the Middle East and beyond at a time Muslims have observed the Eid al-Adha holiday and the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia was drawing to a close.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, denounced Sweden for allowing a protest, further clouding the Nordic country’s chances of quickly joining Nato.
“We will eventually teach the arrogant westerners that insulting Muslims is not freedom of thought,” Erdoğan said.
“We will show our reaction in the strongest possible terms, until a determined victory against terrorist organisations and Islamophobia is achieved.”
The US also condemned the burning. A state department spokesperson said Washington believed the demonstration created “an environment of fear” that would affect the ability of Muslims and members of other religious minorities to exercise their freedom of religion.
Iraq’s foreign ministry condemned Sweden’s decision to grant an “extremist” permission to burn the Qur’an and said such acts “inflame the feelings of Muslims around the world and represent a dangerous provocation.”
Sadr had called for the demonstration at the Swedish embassy to demand the removal of the ambassador, charging that his state is “hostile to Islam”.
A protester, Hussein Ali Zeidan, 32, told AFP he came out to “support the noble Qur’an” and called for Momika’s citizenship to be revoked as “he does not represent Iraq”.
Saudi Arabia, which hosted about 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims for the hajj that ended on Wednesday, also denounced the Qur’an burning.
“These hateful and repeated acts cannot be accepted with any justification,” its foreign ministry said.
Iran joined in the condemnation, calling the Qur’an burning “provocative, ill-considered and unacceptable”.
“The government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran … do not tolerate such an insult and strongly condemn it,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani.
“The Swedish government is expected to seriously consider the principle of responsibility and accountability in this regard, while preventing the repetition of insulting the holy sanctities.”
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, called the Qur’an burning a “disgraceful act provoking the feelings of Muslims” as they mark Eid.
The Cairo-based Arab League called it an “assault on the core of our Islamic faith”, and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council also condemned it.
The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation called for “effective measures to prevent a recurrence”.
The United Arab Emirates presidential adviser Anwar Gargash tweeted that the west “must realise that its value system … cannot be imposed on the world”.
The foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi summoned the Swedish ambassador to protest the free-speech protections given to “such heinous acts”, it said on Thursday.
Kuwait said perpetrators of “hostile acts” must be brought to justice and “prevented from using the principle of freedoms as a ploy to justify hostility against Islam or any holy faith”.
“This new offensive and irresponsible act disregards the feelings of more than a billion Muslims,” the emirate said.
Source : The Guardian