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Muslim-majority nations express outrage and plan street protests over Quran desecration in Sweden

by Andrew Wright
6 comments
Quran Desecration Protests

Friday saw nations with majority Muslim populations voicing their displeasure regarding the desecration of the Quran in Sweden. Plans for street protests were put into motion in order to display their discontent.

Protests were arranged in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon in response to the actions of an atheist Iraqi Christian resident in Stockholm who kicked and stood on a Quran during a permitted protest outside the Iraqi Embassy in Sweden. Prior to these events, demonstrators in Baghdad forcefully entered the Swedish Embassy and initiated a fire in reaction to threats of burning the holy Islamic text.

In response to these events, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, the Prime Minister of Iraq, ordered the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador from Iraq and the withdrawal of the Iraqi charge d’affaires from Sweden. Despite these actions, tensions remain high, with another protest in Baghdad scheduled for Friday afternoon.

In Sweden, public demonstrations are constitutionally protected, with blasphemy laws being abandoned in the 1970s. Permits for public gatherings are typically granted by the police if they believe it can be conducted without major disruptions or threats to safety. The desecration of the Quran, such as burning or other forms of abuse, is perceived by Muslims as an affront to their religious beliefs.

On Friday, despite no signs of retraction from his decision to sever diplomatic relations with Sweden, Sudani urged Iraqi protesters in a statement to maintain the peaceful nature of their protests and called upon security forces to protect public and private property.

On the previous day, 20 arrests were reported by the state-run Iraqi News Agency in connection to the Swedish embassy incident, including a Big Big News photographer and two Reuters staff covering the protests. They were released without charges a few hours later, following an order from the Prime Minister’s office.

Meanwhile, planned street protests were also announced in neighboring Iran. In response to the Quran desecration, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian submitted a letter to the United Nations secretary-general and summoned the Swedish ambassador.

The protestor in Stockholm also disrespected Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr by wiping his feet with their pictures.

Calls for a protest on Friday afternoon were also issued by Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s main sponsor is Khamenei and the Iranian theocracy.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah urged Muslims to demand the expulsion of Swedish ambassadors from their governments.

Condemnations were also echoed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey who summoned Swedish diplomats to voice their discontent over the Quran desecration. Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called on the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation to voice Muslim sentiments and halt the vilification of their faith.

The Swedish Embassy in Baghdad was occupied by protestors on Thursday morning, who initiated a small fire. Following their departure, the embassy was temporarily closed. Prime Minister Sudani stated that the individuals responsible for the fire will be prosecuted, and negligent security officials would be investigated.

Salwan Momika, the Iraqi Christian resident in Sweden, has been involved in a previous incident of Quran desecration last month during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, leading to global disapproval within the Islamic community.

Quran desecration incidents have historically led to widespread protests across the Muslim world, sometimes escalating into violence. In response to the recent Quran burning, the Taliban halted all activities of Swedish organizations in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, a similar protest held outside the Turkish Embassy by a far-right activist complicated Sweden’s efforts to gain membership in NATO.

Contributions to this report were made by Big Big News writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Abby Sewell in Beirut; Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Quran Desecration Protests

What event sparked the outrage in Muslim-majority nations?

The desecration of a copy of the Quran in Sweden by an Iraqi Christian resident who is now a self-described atheist sparked outrage in Muslim-majority nations. This individual kicked and stood on a Quran during a protest outside the Iraqi Embassy in Sweden.

What were the immediate reactions to this incident in Iraq and Iran?

In Iraq, the Prime Minister ordered the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador from Iraq and the withdrawal of the Iraqi charge d’affaires from Sweden. In Iran, the Foreign Minister wrote a letter to the United Nations secretary-general about the Quran desecration and summoned the Swedish ambassador.

Were there any arrests related to the protests?

Yes, the state-run Iraqi News Agency reported that around 20 people were arrested in connection with the storming of the Swedish embassy. Among those arrested were a Big Big News photographer and two Reuters staff members who were covering the protests. They were released hours later without charges.

What further actions are being planned by the nations condemning the Quran desecration?

Nations like Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon planned street protests to display their disapproval. Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group in Lebanon, called for a protest. Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, summoned Swedish diplomats to condemn the desecration. In Pakistan, the Prime Minister urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to take a stand against the incident.

Who is the person behind the Quran desecration?

The person behind the Quran desecration is identified as Salwan Momika, an Iraqi Christian resident in Sweden, who is now a self-described atheist. This is his second involvement in a Quran desecration incident.

More about Quran Desecration Protests

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6 comments

Izzat786 July 21, 2023 - 12:19 pm

This is heartbreaking. As a muslim, the Quran is more than just a book to us, it’s part of our faith and life. This incident is just not right…

Reply
LucyQ July 21, 2023 - 4:33 pm

respect for others faith is a basic thing… it’s not about religion, it’s about humanity. smh…

Reply
SammyJ July 22, 2023 - 4:30 am

Can’t believe what’s happening in Sweden, of all places! this is not ok, people need to respect each other’s beliefs.

Reply
VinceD July 22, 2023 - 6:33 am

Both sides need to cool down. Protests and violent actions won’t solve anything. Dialogue is the key!

Reply
Ricky34 July 22, 2023 - 8:59 am

It’s about free speech, not hate speech. But where do we draw the line?

Reply
HannaS July 22, 2023 - 9:52 am

i’m from Sweden, and this does not represent us. We are tolerant and peaceful. it’s the actions of one person, not all of us.

Reply

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