| 13 June 2024, Thursday |

Protesters try to storm Baghdad’s Green Zone over burning of Quran

In the early hours of Saturday, hundreds of protesters made an attempt to breach Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where foreign embassies and Iraq’s government are located. The unrest followed reports of an ultranationalist group burning a copy of the Quran in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen.
Security forces pushed back protesters, who blocked the Jumhouriya bridge leading to the Green Zone, preventing them from reaching the Danish Embassy, The Associated Press reported.

The protest came two days after people angered by the planned burning of the Islamic holy book in Sweden stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad. Protesters occupied the diplomatic post for several hours, waving flags and signs showing Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, and setting a small fire. The embassy staff had been evacuated a day earlier.

Hours later, Iraq’s prime minister cut diplomatic ties with Sweden in protest over the desecration of the Quran.

An Iraqi asylum-seeker who burned a copy of the Quran during a demonstration last month in Stockholm had threatened to do the same thing again Thursday but ultimately stopped short of setting fire to the book. He did, however, kick and step on it, and did the same with an Iraqi flag and a photo of Sadr and of Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

On Friday afternoon, thousands protested peacefully in Iraq and other Muslim-majority countries.

Also on Friday, according to Danish media reports, members of the ultranationalist group Danske Patrioter burned a copy of the Quran and an Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen, livestreaming the action on Facebook.

The incident prompted the protests in Baghdad overnight. Chanting in support of Sadr and carrying images of the prominent leader and the flag associated with his movement, along with the Iraqi flag, hundreds of protesters attempted to enter the Green Zone and clashed with security forces before dispersing.

In a statement on Saturday, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned “in strong and repeated terms, the incident of abuse against the Holy Quran and the flag of the Republic of Iraq in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Denmark.”

It called on the international community “to stand urgently and responsibly towards these atrocities that violate social peace and coexistence around the world,” the statement read.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat