Saudi Arabia summoned the Swedish ambassador to the Kingdom this Monday. This decision was in response to the burning of a Koran by an Iraqi in front of a mosque in Stockholm, which was authorized by the police. Several countries and organizations strongly condemn this situation and classify the act as “Islamophobia”.
This event took place on the 28th of June in Sweden during the celebration of Eid al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, which is the most important festival of the Islamic religion. Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi man who immigrated to the country several years ago, burned a copy of the Koran, the holy book of Islam, outside a mosque in Stockholm.
The Swedish government publicly condemned this event, but took the opportunity to point out that the protest was authorized by the local authorities in accordance with the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution.
In reaction to this practice, multiple entities – governments, organisations, leaders – have publicly condemned the Swedish authorities for allowing these events to continue to take place. Morocco, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates immediately summoned Swedish ambassadors. It should be noted that this was the first act of this nature authorized by the Swedish police after the courts overturned a previous ban. The protest was attended by hundreds of people and a strong police force.
This Monday, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to summon the Swedish ambassador to the country as a form of “protest” against the burning of the Koran, and denounces an act of “Islamophobia”. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons the Swedish ambassador to the Kingdom and informs her of the Kingdom’s categorical rejection of the burning by extremists of a copy of the Holy Quran in front of the central mosque in Stockholm, Sweden after Eid al-Adha [a ‘Festa do Sacrifício’, que sucede o período da peregrinação a Meca]”, said Saudi diplomacy in a statement.
The Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the world’s largest Islamic organization with 57 member countries, said international law and other collective measures were needed to prevent future incidents involving desecration of the Quran. “We must constantly send warnings to the international community about the urgent application of international law, which clearly prohibits any advocacy of religious hatred,” said ICO Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha. The official also called on the 57 member countries to respond in a “united and collective” way.
In Iraq, thousands of demonstrators tried to storm the Swedish embassy in the country. The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs postponed on Sunday the arrival of the new representative of the Scandinavian country in Baghdad. Protesters urge other countries to launch a boycott campaign against Swedish companies.
It was not just Islamic entities that condemned the event. This Monday, Pope Francis considered the recent Koran burning in Stockholm to be an “unacceptable” and “condemnable” event and asked that freedom of expression not be used as an “excuse to offend others”.
In an interview given to the United Arab Emirates public newspaper, Al Ittihad, the pontiff recalled the document “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistence”, signed in 2019 during a meeting between Pope Francis and Ahmed al Tayeb, Sheikh of Al Azhar, the most important institution of Sunni Islam.
This practice of burning the Koran gained momentum in 2022, when a group of anti-Islamic activists decided to meet to organize a plan that provided for a series of burnings of the holy book of Islam. In response to this event, violent riots broke out in the city of Orebro, in central Sweden, and lasted several days, causing dozens of injuries.
At the time, Swedish authorities were widely criticized for allowing this event. Since then, the Swedish government has done little or nothing to stop these practices from continuing, prompting a wave of international condemnation from Muslim-majority countries.
This issue became a conditioning factor for Turkey to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), a reason that blocks Ankara’s approval to this day due to “lack of will on the part of the authorities from Stockholm”.
Originally posted on RFI
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