A video was previously posted on the Facebook page of a Danish far-right organisation, in which a man appeared to be burning a copy of the Koran and an Iraqi flag. As a representative of the Iraqi Interior Ministry told the AFP news agency, demonstrators in Baghdad apparently wanted to storm the Danish embassy. During Thursday night, protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Stockholm after the Koran was desecrated and partially set on fire.
After the video was released from Denmark, hundreds of people, mostly young people, gathered in the center of Tahrir Square on Friday night, according to an AFP photographer. They chanted slogans like “Yes to the Quran” and some of them held up pictures of Shiite leader Sadr.
Protesters later tried to cross a bridge into the Green Zone which was blocked by Iraqi security forces. Then there were clashes. According to the Ministry of the Interior, however, it was possible to dissolve the meeting before dawn.
Before that, however, the premises of a Danish humanitarian organization in Iraq had also been attacked. As the German Press Agency learned from Iraqi security circles, protesters attacked the offices of Danish Refugee Aid (Dansk Flygtningehjælp, DRC) in the southern province of Basra on Saturday. Questioned by the dpa, the organization confirmed that there was an armed attack against them at dawn. Personnel on the ground were unharmed, but damage was sustained when the buildings were set on fire, DRC Executive Director for the Middle East, Lilu Thapa, said.
The protests were triggered by a Facebook post by the Danish far-right organization Danske Patrioter: it showed a video of what appeared to be a man burning a copy of the Koran and stepping on an Iraqi flag.
Police later confirmed to Danish media that a book had been burned outside the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen – but could not say whether it was the Koran.
Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday morning condemned the “desecration of the Holy Quran and the Iraqi flag”. At the same time, it ensured the protection of the embassy. The country “will not allow what happened to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden to be repeated”. In recent days, both Sweden and the United States have criticized Baghdad for inadequate protection of the Swedish embassy.