The protesters, supporters of Moqtada Sadr, attempted to enter the highly secured Green Zone, including the embassies. The Koran has been desecrated at two authorized public events in Stockholm in recent weeks.
Published on 07/22/2023 13:54
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Iraqi supporters of Moqtada Sadr demonstrate in Tahrir Square near Baghdad’s Green Zone, a day after an alleged Koran burning in Copenhagen July 22, 2023. (MURTAJA LATEEF / AFP)
A new mobilization. Iraqi security forces early Saturday, July 22, dispersed hundreds of Moqtada Sadr supporters in Baghdad who were attempting to enter the highly secured Green Zone, including the embassies. In view of the diplomatic tensions, demonstrators had gathered to protest against the desecration of the Koran.
>> We explain the controversy between Sweden and Iraq and other Muslim countries
The nightly demonstration was triggered by press reports that apparently point to the desecration of the Koran in Denmark. On its Facebook page on Friday, the far-right Danske Patrioter movement posted a video of a man burning what appeared to be a Koran and stomping on an Iraqi flag. On Saturday, AFP contacted Copenhagen Police Deputy Chief Inspector Trine Fisker, “confirmed a very small demonstration outside the Iraqi embassy yesterday: I can also confirm that a book was burned, we don’t know which book it was”.
“These measures put all parties in delicate situations”
For several days, the boisterous religious leader Moqtada Sadr has been stoking the embers and embarrassing the Iraqi authorities amid deep diplomatic tensions in the region. After two sanctioned public events in Stockholm where the Koran was desecrated by an Iraqi refugee, the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was torched by Sadrist protesters on Thursday, the Iraqi government announced the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador and regional condemnations followed.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday condemned “the desecration of the Holy Qur’an and the Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi embassy in Denmark,” saying in a statement that these “heinous facts must not be part of a context of freedom of expression and demonstration.” “These actions provoke reactions and put all parties in delicate situations,” he warned. However, the ministry reaffirms “its full commitment to the Vienna Convention” and ensures that “the Iraqi government ensures the protection and security of diplomatic teams.”
Iran also condemned the incident in Copenhagen. “From the perspective of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Danish government is responsible for preventing insults to the Holy Qur’an and all saints in Islam, and must take legal action to punish those who insult them,” the spokesman for Iranian diplomacy said. Tehran on Friday decreed that no Swedish ambassador to Iran would be admitted until Sweden took “concrete measures” to prevent further desecration of the Koran on its territory.