Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Christerson denounced, on Sunday, what he described as a “very disrespectful act”, the day after the burning of the Qur’an during a demonstration in Stockholm, expressing his “sympathy” with Muslims after a wave of condemnations in the Islamic world.
“Freedom of expression is an essential part of democracy. But what is legal does not have to be appropriate,” the conservative prime minister wrote in an overnight tweet.
He stressed that “the burning of sacred books is considered by many to be a very disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy with all Muslims who felt offended by what happened in Stockholm” on Saturday.
In the framework of a demonstration authorized by the Swedish police in front of the Turkish embassy on Saturday afternoon, the far-right Swedish-Danish Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Quran, in a move aimed at denouncing the negotiations Stockholm is conducting with Ankara regarding Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
And the Swedish police considered, on Friday, that the constitution and freedom of demonstration and expression in Sweden do not justify banning these demonstrations, under the pretext of maintaining public order.
The permit granted to organize the demonstration sparked diplomatic tension with Turkey, which denounced a “clear hate crime” and canceled a visit by the Swedish Defense Minister that was scheduled for next week, further complicating talks on Sweden’s accession to NATO, which Ankara is already blocking.-
Other Muslim countries condemned the burning of the Qur’an.--
On Sunday, Morocco expressed its “astonishment that the Swedish authorities allowed this unacceptable act, which took place in front of the Swedish security forces,” considering that “this heinous act, which affects the feelings of more than a billion Muslims, would fuel feelings of anger and hatred between religions and peoples.”
Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also expressed their condemnation of what happened in Stockholm, in addition to the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Jakarta demanded that “freedom of expression be exercised responsibly”.
In Turkey, dozens of people gathered on Saturday evening in front of the Swedish Consulate in Istanbul to express their protest. They burned the Swedish flag and called on Ankara to sever diplomatic ties with Stockholm. Others demonstrated near the Swedish embassy in Ankara.
For his part, denounced the Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Bilstrom on Twitter, “a horrific anti-Islamic provocation,” stressing that allowing the organization of the demonstration does not mean that the government supports it.