On June 28, 2023, The Swedish police granted permission to Salwan Momika to burn the Quran during a protest outside a mosque in Sweden ahead of the Eid-al Adha. This event comes after a Swedish Court overturned the police ban on Quran-burning protests.
If the protest goes as planned outside the main mosque on the Sodermalm island in the city centre, it will be the first public act of its kind in Sweden after Rasmus Paludan, the Danish leader of the Danish right-wing political party Hard Line, sparked outrage in Turkey and other Muslim countries in January 2023. The previous burning episode occurred outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
Subsequently, after the Danish leader committed sacrilege, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he will no longer support Sweden’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Turkey is a member of NATO, and it uses its rights to hold applications under particular circumstances, including deporting critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and labelling Kurds as terrorists.
Two subsequent requests for protests involved in burning the Quran were denied by the police, one by a private individual and the other by an organisation outside the Swedish, Iraqi and Turkish embassies in Stockholm in February 2023.
The appeals court ruled in June that the police were wrong to ban the protest stating that the order and security problems mentioned by the police did not have a sufficient clear connection to the planned event or its immediate vicinity.
I want to protest in front of the large mosque in Stockholm, and I want to express my opinion about the Quran. I will tear up the Quran and burn it,” Salwan stated in his application seeking permission for a Quran-burning protest.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated on June 28, 2023, that Sweden is still interested in joining NATO before or during the organisation’s summit in Vilnius next month.
There have been several such incidents in the past that led to violence from pro-Islamic groups. In April 2022, the frenzied mob went on a rampage in the Swedish Town of Linkoping after the Danish Anti-Immigration party Stram Kurs announced to burn a copy of the Quran the following day.
Amidst the chanting of Allahu Akbar, the masked men attacked the police vehicles and set them ablaze. According to Hugo Kamman, a total of four police officers were injured in the attack. Two people have been arrested so far in the case.
In July 2022, two women rammed into an anti-Islamic group leader’s vehicle, which was turned upside down The video had gone viral on social media platforms. As per reports, the woman allegedly attacked the man, identified as Lars Thorsen, after he burnt the copies of the Quran.
The incident occurred around 3:PM when Thorsen was driving towards Oslo, the capital of Norway. Thorsen is the leader of the anti-Islamization group called Stop the Islamization of Norway (SIAN).
The desecration of the Quran is not a new phenomenon. Apart from Sweden, copies of the book were desecrated in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Denmark, and Saudi Arabia, along with Norway.
Insulting the Quran, defacing it, or burning the book is regarded as blasphemous by the Muslims. It can also invoke capital punishment and execution, especially in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will lead to life imprisonment as well.