Sweden police grant permit for 'Quran burning protest'

Sweden police grant permit for 'Quran burning protest'
The protesters told media they wanted to see the Quran banned in Sweden. 'I will burn it many times, until you ban it,' said organiser Salwan Najem.
2 min read
The Quran is the Muslim holy book [Jasmin Merdan/Getty-file photo]

Swedish police have granted a permit for a protest outside parliament on Monday in which the organisers plan to burn the Quran, according to local media.

The protesters told media they wanted to see the Muslim holy book banned in Sweden.

"I will burn it many times, until you ban it," organiser Salwan Najem told Expressen newspaper.

Najem had joined Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika at two previous such protests in Stockholm – outside the city's main mosque and later outside Iraq's embassy.

The protest was scheduled for 13:00 (1100 GMT) on Monday, according to the police permit.

Sweden has seen its diplomatic relations with several Middle Eastern nations strained over previous protests involving Quran desecrations.

AFP requested a copy of the application in addition to the permit from police, but did not immediately get a response.

Swedish police have previously stressed they only grant permits for people to hold public gatherings and not for the activities conducted during the events.

In late June, Momika, 37, set pages of the Quran alight outside Stockholm's main mosque.

A month later, he staged a similar protest outside the Iraqi embassy, stomping on the Quran but leaving before burning it.

Both incidents led to widespread outrage and condemnations.

Stopping burnings

Last week, Sweden ordered 15 government bodies including the armed forces, several law enforcement agencies and the tax office to strengthen anti-terrorism efforts.

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On Sunday, neighbouring Denmark said it would explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of holy texts, citing security concerns following backlash over incidents that saw the Quran desecrated in the country.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said a similar process was already underway.

Swedish and Danish envoys have been summoned in a slew of Middle Eastern nations.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have called for a meeting, expected to be held on Monday, of the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to address Quran desecrations in both Sweden and Denmark.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Monday he had been in contact with several of his counterparts among the 57 member states of the organisation ahead of the meeting.

In a statement, Billstrom explained that he had informed them about the process for granting permits for public gatherings in Sweden, and that police made such decisions independently.

"I have also reiterated that the government is very clear in its rejection of the Islamophobic acts carried out by individuals at demonstrations in Sweden," Billstrom said.