| 23 May 2024, Thursday |

Sweden tells citizens to avoid crowds in Turkey after Koran burning

In response to protests in Turkey over the burning of the Koran by a far-right lawmaker in Stockholm last week, Sweden’s foreign ministry issued a warning to its citizens there on Saturday to stay away from crowds and gatherings.

Following the protest during which Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the Danish far-right political organization Hard Line, burnt a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, Turkey this week stopped negotiations with Sweden and Finland on their bids to join NATO.

Paludan’s actions have led to demonstrations in a number of Muslim countries as well as in Turkey.

“Swedes in Turkey are asked to stay updated on the development of events and to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations,” the foreign ministry said on its advice page for Swedes abroad.

“Continued demonstrations can be expected outside the embassy in Ankara and the consulate general in Istanbul in the coming days.”

After Paludan’s protest, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he supported freedom of speech.

“But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act,” Kristersson said on Twitter.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They need support from all 30 members of the Alliance. Turkey has said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt, in order for it to back NATO membership for the two Nordic countries.

  • Reuters