Swede’s Koran sticker shuts down popular Indian ski resort

A Swedish man on a ski holiday in India caused hundreds of angry demonstrators to take to the streets demanding he be punished for putting a sticker with a verse from the Koran on his skis.

The Swede, who lives in Qatar, was nearly beaten by a mob of irate protesters on Saturday in the ski resort village of Gulmarg, located in Kashmir in northern India, India’s Telegraph newspaper reports.

Rumours that the Swede was also Jewish didn’t help the situation, causing many angered residents to assume the act was a deliberate provocation.

Police intervened, however, and took the man to the local police station for questioning.

The Swedish man explained that that the sticker had been given to him for good luck by his wife, who is Muslim.

“She had given him the sticker to protect him from harm since he had come here for skiing. He inadvertently put the sticker on his ski equipment, not knowing the local sensitivities,” said Kashmir police chief B. Srinivas to the Telegraph.

The offending sticker had the first verse of the Koran, which states, “In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, most merciful.”

Gulmarg was brought to a virtual standstill by the demonstrations, with several protesters calling for all foreigners to leave the crowded resort.

By Sunday, the protests had spread to the neighbouring town of Srinagar, as angry Muslims clashed with riot police over the allegedly “sacrilegious” act, according to The Hindu newspaper.

By Monday, however, calm had returned to both towns after a prominent Muslim cleric instructed residents to pardon the Swedish national after he offered an apology for what he deemed an “unintentional” act.