Sweden’s NATO bid teetering after Iraqi critic tears up and burns Quran

Turkey’s foreign minister has condemned Swedish officials for allowing an Iraqi protester to burn a Quran outside Stockholm’s central mosque.

Salwan Momika, a refugee from Iraq who lives in the Swedish capital, was allowed to burn the religious document outside Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s Mosque during Eid al Adha on Wednesday, June 28.

Police granted a permit that allowed the dissenter to tear out pages from the book, wipe them on his feet, cover them in bacon and set them on fire, a move that risks complicating Sweden’s NATO application.

Speaking to local media on Wednesday, Mr Momika said he was protesting the Muslim religion and warned that democracy would be endangered if officials had prevented him from carrying out the act.

He claimed not to be “fighting against Muslims” but “against their thoughts, adding he and another protester, who was alongside him with a megaphone, were “on their side”.

He prompted a range of reactions at the scene, with some people joining the protests and others railing against him.

One bystander shouted “Allah ‘Akbar”, which means “god is great” in Arabic, and another was detained by police for trying to throw a rock at Mr Momika.

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As the book caught fire, another bystander yelled “let it burn” in support.

While the incident caused a stir amongst locals, Swedish officials will have their eyes trained on the reactions of their Turkish counterparts.

The country applied for NATO membership in 2022, but Turkey is one of two nations yet to ratify the application.

The book burning has incensed some ministers in the Muslim-majority country and may only serve to deepen already existing misgivings towards Sweden.

Ankara has refused to grant its assent after accusing Sweden of providing Kurdish militant groups, including the PKK, with a safe haven.

In a tweet, Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s foreign minister, condemned the burning as “anti-Islamic”.

He said: “It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression. To turn a blind eye to such heinous acts is to be complicit in them.”

Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said that while the display was legal, it was “not appropriate”.

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