Protests in Afghanistan and Pakistan after far-right activist burns Koran in Stockholm

AFP/The Local
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Protests in Afghanistan and Pakistan after far-right activist burns Koran in Stockholm
A supporter of Pakistan Markazi Muslim League party chants slogans during a rally against the burning of Koran, a Muslim holy book, by an anti-Islam activist. Photo: AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary

Protests were staged in Afghanistan and Pakistan after a far-right extremist burned the Koran in the Swedish capital.


Hundreds of Afghan men staged a protest in the eastern city of Khost on Tuesday to express anger after Swedish-Danish activist Rasmus Paludan on Saturday set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of Turkey's embassy in Stockholm.

Furious that Paludan was allowed by police to carry out the protest, Ankara cancelled a visit by Sweden's defence minister and summoned Stockholm's ambassador.


The incident was condemned by Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who 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."

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

Protests have been held since then in some Muslim countries, and on Tuesday crowds of Afghan men condemned the incident in Khost, a city bordering Pakistan.

"Death to the Swedish government, death to such politicians," chanted protesters in the city's main square, an AFP correspondent reported.

Images posted on social media showed the protesters standing in the square, some holding the flag of the Taliban, as security personnel stood guard nearby.

"The people of Khost condemned the burning of the Koran in Sweden and called on Muslim countries to raise their voices against this evil and filthy politician," Qadeer Lakanwal, a protester and one of the organisers of the rally, told AFP.

Another organiser, Ibrahim Sayar, said such acts "should not be repeated so as not to create hatred in the hearts of Muslims for other religions".


Afghanistan's foreign ministry had earlier condemned the burning of the Koran.

In a statement released on Sunday, the ministry called on the Swedish government "to punish the perpetrator" and to stop "such vile and provocative anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim acts".

Protesters also chanted "Shame on Sweden" at a rally in the Pakistani megacity of Lahore, heeding a call from local political parties.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted on Sunday: "The garb of the freedom of expression cannot be used to hurt the religious emotions of 1.5 billion Muslims across the world. This is unacceptable."

Demonstrations against Paludan's burning of the Koran also broke out in Iraq, and Indonesia summoned Sweden's envoy on Tuesday over the incident.


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