Muslim-majority nations have reacted to the recent desecration of a copy of the Quran in Sweden.
On Friday, July 21, 2023, protesters in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, planned demonstrations after Swedish police permitted a protest on Thursday, July 20, 2023 in which an Iraqi of Christian origin, living in Stockholm kicked and stood on a Quran, Islam’s holy book, outside of the Iraqi Embassy. He had planned to burn the Quran but did not do so.
This is the second Quran desecration to involve the Iraqi Christian in Sweden, identified as Salwan Momika.
It was reported that the man also wiped his feet with a picture of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his demonstration and did similar to a photo of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Demonstrators in Baghdad had broken into the Swedish Embassy hours before that, and lit a fire to show their anger at his threats to burn the book.
Although Momika did not burn the Quran as he had originally threatened to do, the event still triggered response from several Muslim-majority countries.
Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Thursday ordered the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador from Iraq and the withdrawal of the Iraqi charge d’affaires from Sweden.
In a statement on Friday, Sudani called on Iraqi protesters to “identify and deal with any disruptive individuals attempting to deviate the protests from their peaceful and constitutionally protected nature” and on security forces “to safeguard both public and private property.”
In neighboring Iran, demonstrators also planned to take to the streets. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has written a letter to the United Nations secretary-general over the Quran desecration.
“We consider the Swedish government responsible for the outcome of provocation reactions from the world’s Muslims,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani said.
Lebanon’s Shiite militant group, Hezbollah, also called for a demonstration on Friday afternoon. Khamenei and Iran’s theocracy serve as Hezbollah’s main sponsor.
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, called on Arab and Muslim countries to follow Iraq’s steps and expel Swedish ambassadors from their countries.
He said, “The whole world must see how we embrace our Quran, and the whole world must see how we protect our Quran with our blood.”
The right to hold public demonstrations is protected by the constitution in Sweden. Blasphemy laws were abandoned in the 1970s. Police generally give permission based on whether they believe a public gathering can be held without major disruptions or safety risks.
For Muslims, burning or other abuse of the Quran represents a desecration of their religion’s holy text.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia Summon Swedish Diplomats
In other developments, Qatar summoned Sweden’s envoy early on Friday, handing him a protest note over the events in Stockholm.
The Qatari foreign ministry noted in a statement that Swedish authorities should take “all the necessary measures to stop these shameful acts.”
In the same vein, Saudi Arabia summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires in Riyadh and handed them a note of protest.
Iran’s foreign ministry also summoned Sweden’s Ambassador to the country on Thursday.
Futhermore, Pakistani Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the events in Sweden. He called on the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation to play a “historic role in expressing the sentiments of Muslims and stopping this demonization.”
Meanwhile, Islamists in his country have been pushing Sharif, who faces an upcoming election, to cut diplomatic ties with Sweden.
Turkey also condemned the incident as a “despicable attack” and called on Sweden to take “decisive measures to prevent this hate crime” against Islam.
“We strongly condemn the despicable attack targeting our sacred book,” a statement from the foreign ministry noted.