Torah burning in Sweden stopped despite Quran desecration
A man in Sweden backed down on a threat to burn the Torah outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm, one week after right-wing extremist Rasmus Paludan set alight the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in the Swedish capital.
Paludan on Friday burned the Muslim holy book again in the Danish capital Copenhagen, this time in front of a mosque after Friday prayers, according to the Turkish Anadolu agency.
A 34-year-old man, reportedly of Arab origin according to Arabi21, requested to burn the Jewish holy book in a bid to draw attention to the Swedish authorities’ double standards regarding freedom of speech. He later withdrew his application, according to Swedish media.
Free speech laws were used to justify Paludan’s Quran burning actions by both the Swedish and Danish authorities.
The u-turn on the plan to burn the Torah was welcomed by the Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen. Israeli ambassador Ziv Nevo Kulman said that he and the local Jewish community prevented the move in coopoeration with local authorities.
The man, who was not named by the media, told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that as a Muslim, he knew that "burning holy books is not permissible", but wanted to "create a discussion" due to his anger over the Quran burning.
The man added that he was "tired" that tax money was being spent on protecting Paludan, who has desecrated the Muslim holy book under police protection on several occasions.
In Copenhagen, the far-right provocateur also displayed material containing insults to the Prophet Muhammad in front of a petrol station, which the police cordoned off. Mosque attendees were warned to avoid the area and to not engage with him, according to Anadolu.
Swedish media has also revealed that Paludan’s Quran burning incident was funded by a far-right journalist, Chang Frick, who had previously worked for the Kremlin-backed Russia Today (RT).
Frick, who now carries out regular media work for the far-right Swedish Democrats, paid 320 Swedish krona ($31) for Paludan’s permit to stage the desecration, reported The Guardian.
The journalist is also the founder of a far-right website that focuses on immigration in Sweden, and has made jokes about "having ties" to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Paludan, who leads the far-right party Stram Kurs – which translates to 'Hard Line' – claims he carried out the provocative act in a bid to "pressure" Turkey to approve Sweden and Finland’s NATO memberships.
However, he has desecrated the Muslim holy book on a number of occasions, mostly during far-right demonstrations and in areas with high concentrations of Muslim residents.
The far-right provocateur’s actions have prompted the anger of millions across the Muslim world, with protests taking place in Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has also prompted Denmark's ambassador to be summoned in Turkey.
The Quran burning incident, however, has postponed – and likely jeopardised – NATO talks between Ankara and Stockholm. Both Sweden and Finland need the approval of all of NATO's 30 members in order to join the military alliance.
[Editor's note: The original story said that Swedish authorities refused permission for the man to burn the Torah, when the man withdrew the application himself. This has been corrected.]