Following harsh criticism from Turkey and other Muslim countries, Sweden’s government has condemned the Koran-burning protest held by an Iraqi-born refugee outside Stockholm’s main mosque on June 28, the first of day of Eid al-Adha, as “Islamophobic”.
“The Swedish government fully understands that the Islamophobic acts committed by individuals at demonstrations in Sweden can be offensive to Muslims,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
The ministry added: “We strongly condemn these acts, which in no way reflect the views of the Swedish government”.
The condemnation came in response to a call for collective measures to avoid future Koran-burnings from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, and from Turkey, which has been blocking Sweden’s NATO membership bid due to its alleged “soft stance” against terrorist organisations.
The OIC called on its members “take unified and collective measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents of desecration of copies of the Koran”.
“It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Muslim actions. To turn a blind eye to such atrocious acts is to be a partner in crime,” Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan wrote on Twitter.
This is not the first time that Islam’s holy book was burned in a protest in Sweden. Earlier last year, Danish and Swedish far-right groups and politicians also burned a Koran, souring already tense relations between Ankara and Stockholm.
Sweden has insisted that such protests are legal, however offensive, and observers doubt that Sweden’s condemnation will change Turkey’s position on Sweden’s NATO membership at the coming Vilnius summit on July 11-12.
The US and other members have pushed Turkey to ratify Sweden’s membership before the summit but Turkey insists that Sweden must take concrete steps, including the extradition of Turkish political fugitives.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the two neutral Scandinavian countries of Finland and Sweden to apply to join the Atlantic alliance.
Finland joined NATO in April. All NATO members except for Turkey and Hungary [acting in cooperation with Turkey] have since ratified Sweden’s NATO membership in their parliaments. But Turkey has objected, citing its support for groups it designates as terrorists.
Countries can join NATO only if all its members unanimously agree, which effectively gives Turkey veto powers over any possible enlargement.
A Council of Europe report said on June 23 that Turkey’s government is using its blockage of Sweden’s NATO membership bid to repress its critics abroad.
Source : Balkaninsight