Turkey condemns Koran burning in Stockholm
For months, Sweden has been arguing with Turkey over NATO membership. Amid diplomatic disputes, a right-wing extremist burned a Koran at a demonstration in Stockholm. Angara was furious.
BDuring an anti-Turkish protest in the Swedish capital Stockholm, a participant burned a copy of the Koran. This has intensified the already tense relations between the two countries. Rasmus Paludan, leader of the far-right Danish party Harde Lini, who has Swedish citizenship, burned a Koran near the Turkish embassy on Saturday. The Foreign Ministry in Ankara immediately announced its condemnation of the “heinous attack on our holy book” in the strongest possible terms. Sweden must take action against the perpetrator and the international community must take a stand against Islamophobia. Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait have also condemned the burning of the Koran.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström spoke of the “horrific” Islamophobic provocations. Freedom of expression is widespread in Sweden. “But this does not mean that neither the Swedish government nor I support the views expressed,” he wrote on Twitter.
Turkey had previously canceled a planned visit by Swedish Defense Minister Paul Johnson for late January, citing Balutan’s approval of the rally. In Ankara, Johnson wanted to talk about Sweden’s application for NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey, a member of the alliance, has been blocking the accession for months.
Politician Baludhan has already burned Qurans during protests in the past. In the registration for his rally, which was approved by the authorities, he said his protest was against Islam and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to affect freedom of expression in Sweden.
Turkey said the arson was an act of Islamophobia against Muslims and an “insult to our sacred values”. Allowing such protest under the guise of freedom of expression is totally unacceptable. Saudi Arabia called for “spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence”. Hatred and extremism will be rejected.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine. For this to happen, all 30 members of the alliance must agree. However, Turkey has imposed conditions, including the resumption of arms supplies. Finland and Sweden have signed an agreement with Turkey to overcome Ankara’s objections. Sweden recently said it had done its part, but Turkey is demanding more — including extraditing 130 people Turkey believes are terrorists.
Turkey is soon to hold a presidential election, in which Erdogan, who has ruled for many years, is running again. Few of his potential opponents are ahead of Erdogan in terms of approval ratings.
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