STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Protests in Stockholm on Saturday in opposition to Turkey and Sweden’s bid to affix NATO, together with the burning of a duplicate of the Holy Quran, heightened tensions with Turkey at a time when the Scandinavian nation wants Ankara’s assist to achieve entry. for the navy alliance.
Turkey’s Overseas Ministry stated, “We condemn within the strongest phrases the despicable assault on our holy e book… Permitting this anti-Islamic act that targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, below the quilt of freedom of expression, is totally unacceptable.” He stated.
Her assertion was issued after a far-right anti-immigration politician burned a duplicate of the Quran close to the Turkish embassy. The Turkish Ministry urged Sweden to take essential measures in opposition to the perpetrators and referred to as on all international locations to take concrete steps in opposition to Islamophobia.
A separate demonstration befell within the metropolis in assist of the Kurds and in opposition to Sweden’s try to affix NATO. A gaggle of pro-Turkish protesters additionally held a rally exterior the embassy. All three occasions had police clearances.
Swedish Overseas Minister Tobias Billström stated the anti-Islam provocations have been appalling.
“Sweden has far-reaching freedom of expression, nevertheless it doesn’t imply that the Swedish authorities, or I, endorse the opinions which are expressed,” Billstrom stated on Twitter.
The Koran was burned by Rasmus Paludan, chief of the Danish far-right Exhausting Line celebration. Paludan, who additionally holds Swedish citizenship, has organized plenty of demonstrations up to now the place Qurans have been burned.
Paludan couldn’t be instantly reached by electronic mail for remark. The assertion he obtained from the police acknowledged that his protest was in opposition to Islam and what he referred to as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s try to affect freedom of expression in Sweden.
A number of Arab international locations, together with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait, condemned the burning of the Qur’an. “Saudi Arabia requires spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence, and rejects hatred and extremism,” the Saudi Overseas Ministry stated in a press release.
Sweden and Finland final 12 months utilized to affix NATO within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however all 30 member states should conform to their affords. Turkey stated Sweden specifically ought to first take a clearer stance in opposition to what it views as terrorists, largely Kurdish militants and the group it blames for the 2016 coup try.
On the demonstration to protest Sweden’s bid for NATO and to point out assist for the Kurds, audio system stood in entrance of a giant pink banner studying “We’re all of the PKK”, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Employees’ Celebration (PKK) in Turkey, Sweden and the USA. Amongst different international locations, he addressed a number of hundred pro-Kurds and leftists.
“We’ll proceed to oppose Sweden’s request for NATO,” Thomas Peterson, a spokesman for the coalition in opposition to NATO and one of many organizers of the demonstration, informed Reuters.
Police stated the scenario was calm through the three demonstrations.
The go to of the Minister of Protection was cancelled
Earlier on Saturday, Turkey stated that because of an absence of measures to curb protests, it had canceled a deliberate go to to Ankara by the Swedish protection minister.
Swedish Protection Minister Hulusi Akar stated, “At this stage, Swedish Protection Minister Pal Johnson’s go to to Turkey on January 27 has develop into meaningless. Subsequently, now we have canceled the go to.”
Johnson stated individually that he met Akar on Friday throughout a gathering of Western allies in Germany they usually determined to postpone the scheduled assembly.
Akar stated he mentioned with Erdogan the shortage of measures to curb protests in Sweden in opposition to Turkey and conveyed Ankara’s response to Johnson on the sidelines of a gathering of the Ukraine Protection Contact Group.
“It’s unacceptable to not take a step or reply to those (protests). Obligatory measures ought to have been taken,” Akar stated, based on a press release from the Turkish Protection Ministry.
The Turkish Overseas Ministry had already summoned the Swedish ambassador on Friday over the deliberate protests.
Finland and Sweden signed a trilateral settlement with Turkey in 2022 geared toward overcoming Ankara’s objections to their NATO membership. Sweden says it has fulfilled its a part of the warrant, however Turkey calls for extra, together with the extradition of 130 folks it considers terrorists.
(This story has been corrected to take away the inaccurate reference to Morocco within the ninth paragraph.)
Reporting by Omer Berberoglu in Istanbul and Niklas Pollard and Simon Johnson in Stockholm (extra reporting) By Moaz Abdelaziz in Cairo Writing by Ezge Erkoyun and Niklas Pollard Modifying by Toby Chopra and Frances Kerry
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