STOCKHOLM: Baghdad has asked Sweden to extradite Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika, who stoked international outrage by desecrating the Holy Quran, he and his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Earlier, Swedish police questioned Momika in connection with the extradition request.

“To be extradited to another country, the law (in Sweden) dictates that the crime has to be a crime in both Sweden and Iraq,” David Hall, the lawyer, said.

Burning a holy book “is not a crime in Sweden, so it’s not possible for Sweden to extradite him”, Hall said.

The Swedish government has condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran, but upheld the country’s laws regarding freedom of speech and assembly.

Momika said Iraq was seeking his extradition “so that I can be judged and held accountable in Iraq according to Islamic laws”.

“I will file a complaint against Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein because he committed a political crime against me,” he added.

Momika has burned the Holy Quran at a slew of protests in Sweden since June, sparking widespread outrage and condemnation in Muslim countries.

Iraqi protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad twice in July, starting fires within the compound on the second occasion.

Sweden’s intelligence agency heightened its terror alert level in mid-August to four on a scale of five after angry reactions made the country a “prioritised target”.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2023

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