In spite of worldwide uproar over Quran burning, Swedish authorities approved burning of Islam’s holy book outside of a mosque on Sodermalm island of Stockholm on July 28. In a decision that may risk its NATO bid before the bloc’s key summit in July, Sweden granted permission to burn the Quran ahead of Eid. Swedish police have given the go-ahead for a small demonstration to take place outside a Stockholm Mosque at which the organisers said they would “tear up the Quran and burn it”, which could further complicate Sweden’s bid to join NATO. A series of protests in Sweden against Islam and for Kurdish rights have heightened tensions with Turkey, whose backing Sweden needs to gain entry to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Turkey in late January suspended talks with Sweden on its NATO application after Rasmus Paludan, leader of Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Quran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. The protest was triggered after a 37-year-old Iraqi citizen named Salwan Momika living in Sweden trudged on the Islamic holy book and set several pages ablaze. Swedish people are quite okay with the anti-Islam activists that burning the Quran which caused violent protests in Sweden. Hijab, niqab, halal dietary restrictions, Islamic religious leaders, fatwas, Islamic schools that separate boys and girls, private Islamic family courts, Islamic organizations and political parties, demand for more mosques, distrust or thinly veiled contempt for the host country’s culture, problems with the host country’s public schools and childcare services, and resistance to adaptation, sometimes stated proudly and outright. Meanwhile liberal parties giving extra importance to Muslim immigrants and eyeing the Muslim vote, these things are reasons for such provocations.
Not to mention riots over prophet cartoons and perceived blasphemy, accusations of Islamophobia, seeking to control free speech so Muslim sensitivities won’t be hurt in Sweden. Moreover, there are no laws against such acts in Sweden (nor, of course, against burning Bibles, flags), perhaps this is the reason there was no legal recourse to be taken.
The riots were started by known troublemakers and petty offenders. There was no religious element, they just seized an opportunity to make trouble. Local police had been engaging with local imams well in advance, the local Muslim community was well aware that the police were aware of the situation, and was committed to not rising to this deliberate provocation. Swedish laws also specifically forbid the government to get involved in law enforcement and freedom of speech matters. Swedes did not vote for right–wing parties, cut down immigration, close Islamic schools, etc. because they are fundamentally racist.
The original organizers of this event were Rasmus Paludan, a Danish far-right provocateur, and Dan Park, a Swedish far-right provocateur. Rasmus Paludan is known for burning the Quran several times in Denmark, explicitly to anger Muslims, and Dan Park is known for having drawn the prophet Muhammad, explicitly to anger Muslims. After they had their permit request denied for security reasons, and Rasmus Paludan received a two-year ban of entry to Sweden, unnamed far-right activists went to a suburb called Rosengård and filmed themselves burning a Quran and posted the video online. The only purpose was to anger Muslims.