On Wednesday, June 28, the Swedish Police granted permission to one Salwan Momika to burn the Quran during a protest outside a mosque in Stockholm’s main mosque ahead of Eid-Al-Adha. This comes after a court in Sweden overturned the police ban on Quran-burning protests.
If the protest goes ahead as planned outside the main mosque on Sodermalm island in the city centre, it will be the first public act of its kind in Sweden since Rasmus Paludan, the Danish-Swedish leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line sparked outrage in Turkey and other Muslim countries in January by burning a translated copy of the Koran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. Following the protest, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not support Sweden’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Turkey, a NATO member, is utilizing its right to hold the applications under particular circumstances, including deporting critics of its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and labelling Kurds as terrorists.
Two subsequent requests for protests involving Qur’an burnings were denied by police, one by a private individual and the other by an organisation, outside the Turkish and Iraqi embassies in Stockholm in February. The appeals court ruled in June that the police were wrong to ban the protests, stating that “the order and security problems” mentioned by the police did not have “a sufficiently clear connection to the planned event or its immediate vicinity.”
The police wrote in their permit for Wednesday’s demonstration that while it “may have foreign policy consequences,” the security risks and consequences associated with a Quran burning were not of such a nature that the application should be denied.
According to Stockholm police, only two people were anticipated to attend the protest, including its organiser, Salwan Momika (37), who a recent newspaper interview identified himself as an Iraqi refugee seeking to ban the Quran.
“I want to protest in front of the large mosque in Stockholm, and I want to express my opinion about the Qur’an… I will tear up the Qur’an and burn it,” Salwan Momika wrote in his application seeking permission for a Quran-burning protest.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated on Wednesday that Sweden still is interested in joining NATO before or during the organization’s summit in Vilnius next month.
Past incidents of Quran burning and aftermath
There have been several such incidents in the past of Quran burning that led to violence from pro-Islamic groups. In April 2022, the frenzied mob went on a rampage in the Swedish town of Linköping after Danish anti-immigration party Stram Kurs announced to burn a copy of the Quran the following day.
Amidst the ‘Allahu Akbar’ chants, the masked men attacked police vehicles and set them ablaze. According to independent researcher Hugo Kamman, a total of 4 police officers were injured during the attack. Two people have been arrested so far in connection to the case.
In July 2022, two women rammed into an anti-Islamic group leader’s vehicle, which turned upside down. The video had gone viral on social media platforms. As per reports, the woman allegedly attacked the man, identified as Lars Thorsen, after he burnt copies of the Quran. The incident occurred around 3 PM when Thorsen was driving toward Norway’s capital, Oslo, on July 2. Thorsen is the leader of the anti-Islamisation group ‘Stop the Islamisation of Norway’ (SIAN).