Protests in Stockholm, including Koran-burning, draw condemnation from Turkey

Stockholm, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Tensions with Turkey have risen sharply as the Nordic country seeks Ankara’s backing, with protests on Saturday against a NATO bid to join Turkey and Sweden, including the burning of a Koran. to a military alliance

“We strongly condemn this heinous attack on our holy book…This anti-Islamic act targeting Muslims and insulting our sacred values ​​is totally unacceptable,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. He said.

The statement came after a far-right anti-immigrant politician set fire to a Koran near the Turkish embassy. The Turkish ministry urged Sweden to take necessary measures against the perpetrators and invited all countries to take concrete steps against Islamophobia.

A separate protest took place in the capital against Sweden’s bid to join NATO in support of the Kurds. Pro-Turkish protesters held a rally outside the embassy. All three incidents were sanctioned by the police.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said the Islamophobic provocations were “shocking”.

“There is freedom of expression in Sweden, but that does not mean that the Swedish government or myself endorse the opinions expressed,” Billstrom said on Twitter.

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The burning of the Koran was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line. Paludan, who is also Swedish, has held several protests in the past where he has burned Korans.

Paludan could not immediately be reached by email for comment. A warrant obtained from police said his protest was against Islam and what he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to suppress freedom of expression in Sweden.

Saudi Arabia, Many Arab countries, including Jordan and Kuwait, condemned the burning of the Koran. “Dialogue, tolerance “Saudi Arabia calls for spreading the values ​​of coexistence and rejecting hatred and extremism,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but all 30 member states must approve their proposal. Especially Sweden, terrorists, Turkey says it must take a clear view of what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group blamed for the 2016 coup attempt.

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Turkey, in a demonstration showing support for the Kurds, protesting Sweden’s NATO offer. Sweden And in front of a large red banner referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the United States, speakers chanted “We are all PKK.” Among other countries, He addressed hundreds of pro-Kurdish and left-wing supporters.

“We will oppose Sweden’s NATO application,” Thomas Patterson, a spokesman for the anti-NATO alliance, told Reuters.

The police said that the situation has stabilized in all three protests.

In response to the Koran burning in Istanbul, around 200 protesters burned a Swedish flag in front of the Swedish consulate.

The visit of the Swedish minister has been cancelled.

A planned visit by Sweden’s defense minister to Ankara was canceled early Saturday, Turkey said, due to a lack of measures to ban it.

Jonson said he and Akar met separately on Friday during a gathering of Western allies in Germany and decided to postpone the planned meeting.

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he had discussed with Erdogan the lack of measures to curb anti-Turkish protests in Sweden and told Jonson of Ankara’s response after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

“This (not moving or reacting to the protests) is unacceptable. The necessary things, measures should be taken,” Akar said, according to a Turkish Defense Ministry statement.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned the Swedish ambassador on Friday and plans to protest.

Finland and Sweden signed a tripartite agreement with Turkey in 2022 aimed at overcoming Ankara’s objections to their NATO membership. Sweden says it has fulfilled part of that memorandum, but Turkey is demanding more, including the extradition of 130 people it considers terrorists.

Omer Berberoglu in Istanbul; Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Bulent Usta and additional reporting by Niklas Pollard and Simon Johnson in Stockholm; Moaz Abd-Alaziz in Cairo; Editing by Ezgi Erkoyun and Niklas Pollard; Editing by Toby Chopra and Frances Kerry.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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