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Swedish embassy in Baghdad stormed and set alight over Qur’an burning

July 20, 2023

– metro.uk

The Swedish embassy in Baghdad has been stormed by protesters as anger over a planned public burning of the Qur’an in Stockholm continues to build.

Videos posted online show a large group of people waving flags and signs as they enter the compound, before a number of men try to break down the door.

A small fire was also lit inside the building, with firefighters attempting to douse the flames from a ladder as dawn broke.

In a statement, the Swedish foreign ministry said ‘our embassy staff are in safety’, without elaborating.

‘We condemn all attacks on diplomats and staff from international organisations,’ the ministry said.

‘Attacks on embassies and diplomats constitute a serious violation of the Vienna Convention.

‘Iraqi authorities have the responsibility to protect diplomatic missions and diplomatic staff.’

The Iraqi government has since called its ambassador back from Stockholm, while the Swedish ambassador has left Baghdad.

Fury erupted in Iraq and other parts of the Islamic world when permission was granted for the second Qur’an burning in the Swedish capital in less than a month.

TOPSHOT - Iraqi riot police try to disperse supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gathering for a protest outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on July 20, 2023. Protesters set fire to Sweden's embassy in the Iraqi capital early on July 20 ahead of a planned burning of a Koran in Sweden. Swedish authorities approved an assembly to be held later on July 20 outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, where organisers plan to burn a copy of the Koran as well as an Iraqi flag. (Photo by Ahmad AL-RUBAYE / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)
Several of the protesters held up placards with the face of influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (Picture: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images)

The public burning was due to take place outside the Iraqi embassy at 1pm today.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudanipreviously said his government had informed Stockholm ‘that any recurrence of the incident involving the burning of the Holy Qur’an on Swedish soil would necessitate severing diplomatic relations’.

A statement from his office continued: ‘Granting permission under the pretext of freedom of expression is viewed as provocative and contrary to international covenants and norms, which emphasise respect for religions and beliefs.

‘Such actions are deemed a threat to peace and encourage a culture of violence and hatred.’

In response to the storming of the Swedish embassy, the Iraqi foreign ministry issued a statement saying it had ‘instructed the competent security authorities to conduct an urgent investigation, and take the necessary security measures in order to uncover the circumstances of the incident and identify the perpetrators of this act and hold them accountable according to the law’.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - JUNE 28: A man speak on a megaphone at a Stockholm mosque on June 28, 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden. Whilst Muslims celebrate the most significant holiday in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha, Swedish authorities approved a Koran-burning demonstration outside of a mosque in the center of Stockholm in a decision that may threaten Sweden's bid to join NATO. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images)
Anti-Sweden riots previously broke out in the Middle East after Salwan Momika burned the Qur’an in Stockholm last month (Picture: Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images)

On June 28, Sweden-based Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika tore pages from the Qur’an and burned them outside a Stockholm mosque, prompting worldwide condemnation.

The Swedish foreign ministry described the act as ‘Islamophobic’, adding: ‘We strongly condemn these acts, which in no way reflect the views of the Swedish government.’

For Muslims, the burning of the Qur’an represents a blasphemous desecration of their religion’s holy text.

The protest was cited as a possible reason for Turkey’s hesitation over supporting Sweden’s bid to become a member of Nato.

However, the country changed its stance to support the new admission earlier this month.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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