Swedish justice authorized two rallies during which an Iraqi refugee attacked copies of the Muslim holy book. Embarrassing gestures for Swedish diplomacy.
The desecration of a Koran by an Iraqi refugee in Sweden on Thursday, July 20, has stirred the political class and public opinion in his country of origin and part of the Muslim world. At a rally in Stockholm, Salwan Momika gave up burning a copy of Islam’s holy book as he did in June, but trampled on it and tore it to pieces.
Sweden’s politicians are trying to find a balance between condemning their actions and protecting freedom of expression, under which Justice has authorized both demonstrations. Notably, Iraq expelled the Swedish ambassador who was set on fire by protesters on Thursday. Francinfo summarizes the case for you.
These insults are the work of an Iraqi refugee in Sweden
There are two distinct processes in the origin of tenses. On June 28, the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, Salwan Momika visited the largest mosque in Stockholm. In front of a hundred journalists, he stomped on a copy of the Koran, slipped pieces of pork into it, and then burned some pages. On Thursday, when he announced his intention to repeat the gesture, Salwan Momika again stepped on a copy of a sacred work, but did not set it on fire.
A refugee in Sweden, this 30-year-old Iraqi national says he left in 2017, according to an interview published Friday. Marianne. He describes being a Christian, becoming an atheist, and condemning religion today “Danger to the Human Spirit”. But his actions specifically target Islam and the Koran he preaches “Incitement to commit crime against any non-Muslim” : “It should be banned or the provocative verses should be removed from it”he told the weekly.
In Iraq, he says he joined a political party representing his own Aramaic community. According to France 24, the footage shows him in 2015 among members of a Christian faction of fighters fighting Islamic State, which is backed by Iran and accused of war crimes. In early July, he said he hoped to one day be a candidate for the Swedish parliament for the far-right party D.Sweden’s Democrats support the current ruling coalition. The party responded that the activist’s actions did not represent it.
Sweden oscillates between unrest and protection of freedom of expression
Salvan Momika’s actions had stirred up Sweden as early as June. In February, Swedish police banned two religious book-burning rallies near the Turkish and Iraqi embassies. One of these demands was made by Salvan Momika, and the second by an association that said it wanted to block Sweden’s entry into NATO.
But in early April, Swedish courts ruled against the police, ruling that there was no threat of attack that prompted the ban on these gatherings. “Not attached to sufficiently convincing or questionable demonstrations” To justify interference with freedom of expression or assembly. The decision was upheld on appeal on June 12, forcing Salwan Momika to admit burning the Koran. However, the police have announced that they will register a complaint “Struggle against an ethnic group”Due to the desire to perform this act in front of a mosque.
“I think we also have to think in Sweden”Conservative Prime Minister Ulf Kristerson responded by not questioning the law but criticizing the gesture: “There’s no reason to insult people. (…) “I think some things are legal because they’re not appropriate.” The Ministry of External Affairs has condemned “for sure” A worthy act“Islamophobia”.
However, on July 14, the police authorized a rally in front of the Israeli Embassy where a Bible and Torah were to be burned. Next day, at the announced time, there is no burning: The organizer explained to the press that he wanted to “There are limits to freedom of expression that must be taken into account. (…) Burning is against the Quran [un livre sacré] I won’t burn anything. No one should do that.” Similarly, the authorities did not ban Salwan Momika’s new event on Thursday. In both cases, the police reasoned, authorization was not sought to burn religious texts, but rather to organize a rally on freedom of assembly. A spokeswoman said it did not condone what was happening there.
The Iraqi activist can continue to test the limits of this judicial framework: “I will keep burning Qurans by law”He says in an interview to Marianne.
The issue turned into a diplomatic crisis and the UN itself
June’s flare-ups have already sparked strong reactions across the Muslim world. Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr called for the demonstration, and a few dozen supporters briefly stormed the Swedish embassy in Iraq, before several thousand demonstrators marched the next day. Protests have mounted across the Muslim world, from Egypt to Afghanistan, targeting not only the gesture but also Swedish police recognition. This was condemned by Morocco “Repeated provocations were made under the watchful eye of the Swedish government.”and recalled its ambassador to Sweden, while Kuwait recalled the Swedish ambassador.
The affair complicated already tense relations with Turkey, which voted (for other reasons) in favor of Sweden’s entry into NATO. “We will teach arrogant Westerners that insulting Muslims is not free speech”Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a televised intervention.
Even the material is UN. Pakistan, on behalf of many countriesThe Organization of Islamic Cooperation has voted to condemn the recent attacks on the Koran at the Human Rights Council. “Any advocacy and expression of religious hatred”. The resolution also calls for countries to enact laws to punish those responsible for such acts. A point of contention was that neither the EU nor the US condemned the burning of Stockholm, but worried about criminalizing blasphemy. However, the text was accepted.
A new rally took place in Baghdad early Thursday morning. Demonstrators set fire to the Swedish embassy, causing no injuries, before being dispersed by police. After condemning the fire, the Iraqi government ordered the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador and threatened to sever diplomatic ties between the two countries. Iraq has also revoked Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson’s license to operate in the country. On Friday, demonstrations continued in several Iraqi cities, as well as in Tehran (Iran) and Beirut (Lebanon). I amDiplomatic tensions have spread to new countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran and Jordan in particular have invited Swedish representatives to their capitals. For its part, Sweden promised that its embassy in Iraq would operate temporarily from Stockholm.
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