(CTN News) – Thousands of people took to the streets in several Muslim-majority countries on Friday to express their outrage over the desecration of a copy of the Quran in Sweden. The incident had sparked protests, leading to the storming of the Swedish Embassy in Iraq the previous day.
Peaceful Protests Across Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran:
Protesters in Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran held peaceful demonstrations following their weekly prayers, denouncing the disrespectful act against their holy text. Unlike the chaotic scenes in Baghdad, where the Swedish Embassy was occupied and a small fire was set, the subsequent protests remained controlled.
Muslims Condemn Quran Desecration:
For Muslims, any form of desecration of the Quran is considered deeply abhorrent and offensive. Outraged by the incident in Sweden, demonstrators in Baghdad’s Sadr City and Beirut’s southern suburbs, as well as in Tehran and other Iranian cities, gathered with Qurans in hand, calling for justice.
Leaders’ Responses and Diplomatic Tensions:
Several Muslim-majority countries condemned the Quran’s desecration and summoned Swedish diplomats to express their grievances. In response to the incident, Iraq cut diplomatic ties with Sweden, and the Iraqi prime minister ordered the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador and the withdrawal of the Iraqi charge d’affaires from Sweden.
Swedish Position on Freedom of Speech:
Sweden, which upholds the right to hold public demonstrations under its constitution, faced criticism for permitting the initial protest where the Quran was disrespected. The country had abandoned blasphemy laws in the 1970s, relying on police discretion to ensure public gatherings do not cause major disruptions or safety risks.
Global Impact and Calls for Action:
The incident in Sweden triggered protestsin Muslim-majority nations and led to diplomatic tensions. Calls for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to address the issue and demands for Sweden to take a stronger stance against the individual responsible for the desecration have intensified.
Sweden’s Response and Imam’s Frustration:
The Swedish Foreign Ministry labeled the embassy storming as “completely unacceptable,” expressing displeasure to the Iraqi charge d’affaires. However, within the Swedish Muslim community, there is growing frustration that such incidents can occur without stronger preventive measures.
Imam Mahmoud Khalfi from the Stockholm mosque, where the previous Quran burning took place, voiced his disappointment in Swedish authorities’ lack of understanding and action. He called for a balanced approach that respects freedom of speech while safeguarding religious sentiments, citing Finland’s continued existence of blasphemy laws.
The Quran desecration incident in Sweden has reverberated across the Muslim world, prompting peaceful protests and diplomatic repercussions. While the right to freedom of speech is upheld in Sweden, the incident has raised questions about the need for more comprehensive measures to prevent similar occurrences. Leaders and communities worldwide continue to emphasize respecting religious beliefs and promoting peaceful expressions of dissent.