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Swedish Prime Minister condemns Koran burning

Sweden's Prime Minister has condemned as "deeply disrespectful" the weekend burning of a Koran in Stockholm, which has raised tensions with Turkey as the Nordic country courts Ankara over its NATO bid.

Swedish Prime Minister condemns Koran burning
Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Photo: Ludovic MARIN/AFP

Far-right politician Rasmus Paludan set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book on Saturday in front of Turkey’s embassy in the Swedish capital.

Furious that Paludan had been permitted by Swedish police to carry out the protest, Ankara cancelled a visit by Sweden’s defence minister and summoned Stockholm’s ambassador.

Late on Saturday, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson tweeted: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act.”

READ ALSO: Swedish FM: ‘improper’ for me to try to stop Turkey embassy Koran burning

“I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today.”

Paludan’s demonstration has further damaged relations as Stockholm tries to convince NATO member Turkey to approve Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance.

Sweden’s bid has been stalled amid Ankara’s demands that Stockholm hand over Kurdish activists and prevent rallies attacking Turkey’s leadership.

Many Muslim countries said they were outraged by the burning of the Koran on Saturday.

Morocco said it was “astonished” the authorities had allowed it to take place “in front of the Swedish forces of order”.

Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also condemned it, as did the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Jakarta said “the act of blasphemy against the holy book has hurt and tarnished religious tolerance”, adding that “freedom of expression must be exercised in a responsible manner”.

Dozens of protesters gathered late Saturday in front of the Swedish consulate in Istanbul, where they burned a Swedish flag and called on Turkey to sever diplomatic ties with Stockholm.

Paludan, a Swedish-Danish activist who has already been convicted for racist abuse, provoked rioting in Sweden last year when he went on a tour of the country and publicly burned copies of the Koran.

Member comments

  1. All the good democratic countries slammed Sweden for its attitude against religious rights: Turkey, Morocco, Jakarta, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates……………………..

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MILITARY

Sweden does not rule out sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Sweden does not 'exclude' sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, said Defence Minister Pål Jonsson.

Sweden does not rule out sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine

His comments come after Germany gave the greenlight for them to be given to Kyiv.

Following weeks of pressure from Ukraine and other allies, Berlin finally agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks, seen as among the best in the world.

The move opened the way for other European nations that operate Leopards to send tanks from their own fleets to Ukraine, further building up the combined-arms arsenal Kyiv needs to launch counter-offensives.

“I don’t exclude the possibility that we can do that in the future, working with other countries,” Jonson told AFP in an interview.

“We could possibly contribute in various ways. It could be related to logistics, maintenance, training, but also tanks as such.”

Sweden, which has broken with its doctrine of not delivering weapons to a country at war, last week pledged a major package of arms for Ukraine, including modern howitzers and armoured vehicles.

“Right now our focus is on delivering that rather substantial contribution,” Jonson said.

EXPLAINED:

On Wednesday he held talks with senior Nato officials in Brussels with Sweden’s bid to join the Western military alliance facing fresh problems from Turkey.

Ankara on Tuesday postponed accession talks with Sweden and Finland, lashing out at Stockholm over protests that included the burning of the Koran.

The decision further diminished the chances of Turkey ratifying their Nato bids before its May presidential and parliamentary elections.

Jonson insisted that it remained a top priority for the Swedish government to become a member of the alliance “as quickly as possible”.

“We’re respectful that this is of course a decision for Turkey and for its parliament,” he said.

Sweden dropped a long-standing policy of non-alignment last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked fears that the country was outside Nato’s collective security umbrella.

Jonson said Sweden already felt “considerably more secure” after receiving assurances from powers including the United States, Britain and France.

“Of course, being a full member of Nato will provide us with Article Five and the security guarantees, and that’s important of course as well,” he said.

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