May 23, 2024

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Sweden: Police allow rally where organizer plans to burn Quran

Sweden: Police allow rally where organizer plans to burn Quran

Organizer Salwan Momika, 37, says he wants to “express his opinion about the Quran”. “I will tear up the Koran and burn it”

Swedish police have given permission for a rally outside Stockholm’s largest mosque on Wednesday, where one organizer plans to burn a Koran. The event takes place on the first day of Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday in the Muslim calendar. The Swedish police wrote in its decision that the “security risks” of Koran burning were “not prohibitive”. The rally is scheduled for 1:30pm local time and will be monitored by law enforcement.

Fredrik Persson/AFPSwedish-Danish right-wing extremist Rasmus Palud burns Quran in Stockholm, Sweden

In his request for authorization of the demonstration, organizer Salwan Momika, 37, said he wanted to “express his opinion on the Koran”. “I will tear up the Koran and burn it,” he wrote. A Koran-burning demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm in January angered Ankara, which is blocking Sweden’s candidacy for NATO membership.

Two similar gatherings on February 6 and 9, which will see copies of Islam’s holy book burned, have been refused by Stockholm police, who have said they risk disrupting public order. The demonstrators appealed the decision and an administrative tribunal ruled in their favor in early April.

Yasin AKGUL / AFP
Yasin AKGUL / AFPProtesters held copies of the Quran outside the Swedish consulate in Istanbul

In mid-June, the Administrative Court of Appeal upheld the first case ruling, indicating that the security risks presented by the police “did not have a sufficiently clear connection” to the gatherings in question. It was on this basis that Swedish police made their decision on Wednesday, days ahead of the Vilnius summit on July 11 and 12, where Stockholm hopes to make progress on joining NATO.

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