Protesters storm the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad for authorizing the burning of the Koran at a protest in Stockholm

Early Thursday, hundreds of protesters, sympathizers of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, stormed and ransacked the Swedish Embassy premises in Baghdad’s fortified “Green Zone” in central Baghdad.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, Tobias Billstrom, has assured that the Embassy staff is safe, but blamed the Iraqi authorities for not having protected the diplomatic legation and has summoned the main Iraqi representative in Sweden.

“The attacks on the Swedish Embassy in Iraq are completely unacceptable. This is the second time in a short time that this has happened. Iraq has the responsibility of protecting the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad”, he lamented in a statement, quoted by the EFE Agency.

It is not the first time that Iraqi demonstrators protest the burning of the Koran and try to break into the Swedish Embassy, ​​and cleric Muqtada Al Sadr went even further, calling for the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador from Baghdad, after a man arrested set fire to a copy of the holy book last month.

That first incident had been carried out by an Iraqi refugee in Sweden, who declared to a local newspaper that he wanted to abolish the Koran and the laws based on the religious text, which are applied to the letter in most Muslim countries, like his own country.

For its part, the Iraqi government has condemned “in the strongest terms the burning of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad at dawn on Thursday” and has ordered “all security measures necessary to identify the perpetrators of this act.”

However, a few hours later, he has decided to withdraw his charge d’affaires in Sweden, in protest against the burning of copies of the Koran in Stockholm, according to a statement quoted by EFE.

The Iraqi government has also sent “a request to the Swedish ambassador in Baghdad to leave Iraqi territory, in response to the Swedish government’s repeated authorization to burn the noble Qur’an, insult Islamic sanctities and burn the Iraqi flag.”

This Thursday, the Swedish authorities authorized an act in Stockholm, in which the burning of the holy book of Muslims is planned. According to the Swedish news agency TT, quoted by Reuters, two people had requested permission from the Police to burn the Koran and the Iraqi flag, at the gates of the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm.

Baghdad’s diplomatic measure comes after an emergency meeting of the Iraqi government, which has threatened to break relations with Sweden “if the Koran is burned again on its territory.” “Iraq condemns the insistence by the Swedish authorities on positions so provocative of the beliefs and sanctities of others,” he stressed.

A copy of the holy book had already been burned outside a Stockholm mosque last June, angering the Muslim community and condemning many governments, including Iraq’s. The Swedish Police had denied permission in February to two requests to burn the Koran alluding to security reasons, but the Justice rejected that argument in several instances in subsequent months, under the extensive laws that protect freedom of expression in Sweden.

According to the Reuters agency, the Swedish government is considering changing that law so that the Police can prohibit demonstrations that include the burning of the Koran, if they endanger the security of the country or, in this case, its diplomatic personnel.

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