Sweden’s government has condemned this week’s burning of a Qur’an outside Stockholm’s main mosque, calling it an “Islamophobic” act, after an international Islamic body called for measures to avoid future burnings.
“The Swedish government fully understands that the Islamophobic acts committed by individuals at demonstrations in Sweden can be offensive to Muslims,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “We strongly condemn these acts, which in no way reflect the views of the Swedish government,” it added.
The condemnation came in response to a call for collective measures to avoid future Qur’an burnings from the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The 57-member body met at its Jeddah headquarters to respond to Wednesday’s incident in which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stamped on the Islamic holy book and set several pages alight.
The OIC urged member states to “take unified and collective measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents of desecration of copies of the Qur’an”, according a statement released after the extraordinary meeting.
“The burning of the Qur’an, or any other holy text, is an offensive and disrespectful act and a clear provocation. Expressions of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Sweden or in Europe,” the Swedish foreign ministry said.
The ministry added that Sweden had a “constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration”.
Countries including Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco have summoned Swedish ambassadors in protest at the Qur’an burning incident.
Swedish police had granted Momika a permit in line with free speech protections but authorities later said they had opened an investigation over “agitation against an ethnic group”, noting that Momika had burned pages from the Islamic holy book very close to the mosque.