1674380483 Protests in Stockholm including Koran burning strongly condemned by Turkey

Protests in Stockholm, including Koran burning, strongly condemned by Turkey

Portal —

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Saturday that a planned visit by his Swedish counterpart to Ankara was canceled after Swedish authorities gave permission for protests in Stockholm.

Protests in Stockholm on Saturday against Turkey and Sweden joining Nato, including the burning of a copy of the Koran, have sharply increased tensions with Turkey at a time when the Nordic country needs Ankara’s support to join the military alliance.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the heinous attack on our holy book… Allowing this anti-Islamic act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is totally unacceptable,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said.

Her statement was released after an anti-immigrant politician from the far-right fringe burned a copy of the Koran near the Turkish embassy. Turkey’s ministry called on Sweden to take necessary action against the perpetrators and called on all countries to take concrete steps against Islamophobia.

A separate protest was held in the city in support of the Kurds and against Sweden’s bid to join NATO. A group of pro-Turkish protesters also held a rally in front of the embassy. All three events had a police permit.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Islamophobic provocations were appalling.

“Sweden has wide-ranging freedom of expression, but that doesn’t mean the Swedish government or I endorse the opinions expressed,” Billstrom said on Twitter.

Hulusi Akar announced that a planned visit by his Swedish counterpart has been cancelled.

The Koran burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line. Paludan, who also has Swedish citizenship, has held a number of demonstrations in the past where he has burned the Koran.

Paludan was not immediately available for comment via email. The permit he received from police said his protest was held against Islam and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to influence freedom of expression in Sweden.

Several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait, condemned the burning of the Koran. “Saudi Arabia calls for the spread of the values ​​of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence and rejects hatred and extremism,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but all 30 member states must approve their applications. Turkey has said that Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance on what it sees as terrorists, mostly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

At the protest demonstration against Sweden’s Nato bid and in support of the Kurds, speakers stood in front of a large red banner that read “We are all PKK,” referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is banned in Turkey, Sweden and the United States, among others other countries and addressed several hundred pro-Kurdish and left-wing supporters.

“We will continue our opposition to Sweden’s NATO bid,” Thomas Pettersson, spokesman for the Alliance Against NATO and one of the organizers of the demonstration, told Portal.

The situation was calm in all three demonstrations, the police said.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkey said it had canceled a planned visit to Ankara by Sweden’s Defense Minister due to a lack of action to curb the protests.

“At this point, Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson’s visit to Turkey on January 27 has become meaningless. So we canceled the visit,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.