Swedish prime minister called the burning of a Quran in Stockholm over the weekend “deeply disrespectful.” This has raised tensions with Turkey at a time when Sweden is trying to get Turkey to join NATO.
Rasmus Paludan, a politician on the far right, lit a copy of the Muslim holy book on fire in front of Turkey’s embassy in the Swedish capital on Saturday.
Swedish police let Paludan hold the protest, which made Ankara very angry. As a result, Sweden’s defense minister’s trip to Turkey was canceled, and Stockholm’s ambassador was called to Ankara.
Saturday night, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson sent out a tweet: “Freedom of speech is one of the most important parts of a democracy. But not everything that is legal is the right thing to do. Burning holy books is a very disrespectful thing to do.”
“I feel bad for all Muslims who were hurt by what happened in Stockholm today,” he said.
Paludan’s protest has made things worse between Sweden and NATO member Turkey as Stockholm tries to get Turkey to agree to Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance.
Sweden’s bid has been put on hold because Ankara wants Sweden to hand over Kurdish activists and stop rallies that criticize Turkey’s government.
On Saturday, when the Quran was burned, many Muslim countries were very upset.
Morocco was “astonished” the authorities allowed it “in front of the Swedish forces of order.”
Dozens of protesters gathered Saturday night before the Swedish consulate in Istanbul. They burned a Swedish flag and asked Turkey to cut diplomatic ties with Stockholm.
Paludan is a Swedish-Danish activist who has already been found guilty of being racist. Last year, he went on a tour of Sweden and burned copies of the Quran in public, which led to riots.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE all criticized it.
Jakarta claimed “blasphemy against the holy book has damaged and defiled religious tolerance” and that “freedom of expression must be practiced in a reasonable manner.”