Swedish embassy in Baghdad stormed and set alight over Qur’an burning
July 20, 2023
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.
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’.
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.
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