Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani expelled the Swedish ambassador from the country and recalled the republic’s charge d’affaires from Stockholm. It is reported by Iraqi News Agency.
“This decision was prompted by the Swedish government’s repeated permission to burn the Holy Quran, insult Islamic shrines and burn the Iraqi flag,” the news agency said in a statement.
The step was a reaction to today’s action at the Iraqi Embassy in the center of Stockholm. Only two people took part in it. The activists kicked the Koran (although they had previously threatened to burn it) and wiped their shoes with paper copies of the Iraqi flag and photographs of the country’s leaders. It is reported by TASS. There were many more people from the Middle East who protested and sang prayers.
It was these events that forced the Iraqi government to decide to expel the Swedish ambassador and recall its own. The move was supported by the Council of Representatives (parliament) of Iraq.
“The Council of Representatives deeply regrets the action taken today in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm,” the document said, quoted by Shafaq News.
Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid also condemned “the irresponsible behavior of the Swedish authorities and the lack of respect for beliefs and shrines” (quoted by Shafaq News).
As a result of the incident, the Iraqi authorities announced the suspension of the activities of the Swedish company Ericsson Telecom in the country.
Perhaps such a sharp reaction of Baghdad (the Iraqi government even informed Sweden of its intention to break off diplomatic relations with the kingdom) is due to the fact that the action that took place today is being carried out by the same people for the second time. On June 28, Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old immigrant from Iraq, tore out pages from the Koran and set it on fire. The action took place on one of the main religious holidays of the Muslim world – Eid al-Adha (Eid al-Adha among the Turkic peoples).
In an interview with the Swedish media, Momika said that he wants to ban the Koran in the kingdom:
“We will burn the Koran, we will say: Wake up, Sweden. This is democracy, it is dangerous if they say that we are not allowed to do this,” the activist told the TT news agency (quoted by TASS).
Both actions were authorized by the Swedish authorities. The country’s prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, said that the decision to allow the protests is made by the police, but he considers them absolutely legal.
“I understand that these are deliberate provocations,” Kristersson admitted in an interview with the Swedish edition of Aftonbladet. “Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean I think it’s appropriate.”
However, in its media comment, the Swedish Foreign Ministry wrote (quote from TASS):
“The Swedish government is fully aware that Islamophobic acts committed by individuals during demonstrations in Sweden may be offensive to Muslims. We strongly condemn these actions, which in no way reflect the views of the Swedish government.”
However, the news that the Swedish authorities have allowed today’s action with the Koran led to protests in Baghdad. The demonstrators broke into the building of the Swedish diplomatic mission and set it on fire. Baghdad security forces used water cannons to disperse demonstrators. About 20 people (including journalists) were detained, five were arrested.
The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the burning of its embassy.
“We condemn all attacks on diplomats and employees of international organizations. All embassy staff in Baghdad are safe and the ministry is in constant contact with them,” the Swedish Foreign Ministry said.
Foreign Minister Tobiaa Billström called the incident unacceptable. According to him, the Iraqi authorities have an obligation to protect diplomatic missions in accordance with the Vienna Convention, and they have failed in this task.
The Swedish Embassy in Baghdad has suspended operations until further notice.
The pogrom in the building of the diplomatic mission was also condemned in Baghdad. The country’s government ordered an urgent investigation and the necessary security measures.