BAGHDAD: Iraqi riot police prevent demonstrators from storming the Swedish embassy on Monday. One policeman and seven protesters were injured during the rally, held to protest the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran in Stockholm by Swedish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday.—AFP
BAGHDAD: Iraqi riot police prevent demonstrators from storming the Swedish embassy on Monday. One policeman and seven protesters were injured during the rally, held to protest the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran in Stockholm by Swedish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday.—AFP

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi policeman and seven protesters were injured on Monday during a rally outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad against the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran in Stockholm, a security source said.

Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday perpetrated the act in front of the Turkish embassy in the Swedish capital.

Iraqi police confronted more than 400 protesters outside the embassy when they came too close to the building, an Iraqi interior ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to reporters.

During the rally, which was organised by pro-Iran groups, protesters chanted, “No to Sweden, yes to the Holy Quran”.

As police pushed the demonstrators back, violence erupted. “Protesters threw stones and the police used their truncheons,” the interior ministry official said, adding that seven protesters and a policeman were injured.

Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden on Monday that it should not expect his backing to join Nato following Saturday’s events.

Erdogan’s furious comments further distanced the prospects of Sweden and Finland joining the Western defence alliance before Turkiye’s presidential and parliamentary polls in May.

“Sweden should not expect support from us for Nato,” he said in his first official response to the act by an anti-Islam politician during a protest on Saturday that was approved by the Swedish police despite Turkiye’s objections.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2023

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