Swedish FM: 'improper' for me to try to stop Turkey embassy Koran burning

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Swedish FM: 'improper' for me to try to stop Turkey embassy Koran burning
Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billström at an EU meeting in Brussels in December. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin/TT

Sweden's foreign minister has said that it would be "extremely improper" for him to call for the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan not to be allowed to burn the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.


Swedish police on Friday granted the anti-Islamic extremist Rasmus Paludan permission to burn a copy of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, outside Turkey's embassy, and has also granted permission for a pro-Turkish counter demonstration. 

Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billström said that he was concerned that the demonstration risked further delaying Turkey's ratification of Sweden's Nato bid. 


"Everything that delays the process unnecessarily is naturally something which we take with the greatest seriousness," he said. 

Paludan, a law graduate who leads the extremist Hard Line party in his native Denmark, last year began carrying out Koran burnings in Sweden, leading to riots across the country last Easter. 

Paludan said he was planning to hold a rally outside Turkey's embassy at 1pm on Saturday, saying he hoped to "take a small stand for freedom of expression against Turkey". 

The protest comes a week after a mannequin wearing a mask of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was hung upside-down by Kurdish activists outside Stockholm city hall, in a similar manner to the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. 

At the same time as Paludan's protest, the Union of European Turkish Democrats, UETD, a pro-Turkish group will hold a demonstration in support of Turkey and President Erdoğan. 

"Sweden's constitutional laws give strong protection and you need to judge that the value of being able to demonstrate and freedom of expression is extremely important," Ola Österling, a press spokesman with the police, said. 

He said that the police had good contact with both groups of protestors and had sufficient resources to police the demonstration. 


"Every Saturday, we have a tailored resource which we judge is sufficient to handle this," he said, describing the police's decision to grant a protest permit as "like a contract", where the police will ensure that "everyone involved is able to express their opinion".

At Norra Bantorget, a few kilometres from the embassy, several hundred people are expected to gather for a demonstration against Erdoğan and Sweden's application to join Nato, organised by a Kurdish group.  


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steveh-77 2023/01/21 17:37
Sweden remained independent for over 100 years. And this helped make Sweden great. No need to join NATO now just because of the conflict in Ukraine. Look to big brother USA for protection. It's comes off as pathetic and weak. Sweden should remain free. Stay out of NATO or it might get dragged into a conflict it doesn't want to fight.

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