Sweden wary of provocative, anti-Islam moves

Published February 9, 2023
Houthi supporters rally to denounce the burning of a copy of the holy Koran during Sweden protests, in Sanaa, Yemen. — Reuters
Houthi supporters rally to denounce the burning of a copy of the holy Koran during Sweden protests, in Sanaa, Yemen. — Reuters

STOCKHOLM: Sweden has moved into the international spotlight after a number of provocative incidents, including the recent public burning of the Holy Quran, the security services said on Wednesday.

“Recent developments with threats targeted at Sweden and Swedish interests are serious and affect Sweden’s security,” the country’s security service, SAPO, said in a statement. “The developments mean that Sweden is deemed to be in greater focus than previously for violent Islamic extremists globally.”

Sweden and neighbour Finland last year launched bids to join Nato, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The membership process has been held up by Turkiye, which says the two Nordic countries, primarily Sweden, are not doing enough to fight terrorism.

The burning of the Holy Quran by a far-right politician outside the Turkish embassy last month has ratcheted up tensions.

Thousands of Afghans took to the streets to protest after Rasmus Palundan’s actions, which also provoked anger in other parts of the Muslim world.

Police in Stockholm said on Wednesday they had rejected an application for another demonstration outside Turkiye’s embassy, planned for Thursday (today), at which a copy of the Holy Quran was going to be burned.

Recent developments meant public safety could not be guaranteed, spokesman Ola Osterling said. “We can also say that burning the (Holy) Quran has repercussions for Swedish society widely; abroad, in Sweden and for Swedes abroad,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023

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