| 1 October 2023, Sunday |

Violent protests after Quran burning in Sweden

Three men have been arrested in connection with a violent riot following a Quran burning in Sweden.

Unrest erupted after an Iraqi anti-Islam activist Salwan Momika set fire to a copy of the Islamic holy book on Sunday.

Police said they detained 10 people for disturbing public order in the city of Malmo.

Several vehicles were set on fire after about hundred people gathered in response to the burning.

Mr Momika set fire to a Quran in Varnhemstorget, a main square in the city on Sunday afternoon. He has previously desecrated the Quran, in a series of anti-Islam protests, and his actions have caused diplomatic outrage across the Middle East.

A group of angry protesters tried to stop the burning, which resulted in a showdown between them and police.

Officers said they were pelted with stones, while some demonstrators threw electric scooters at police vehicles.

Several police cars were set on fire in Malmo’s Rosengard neighbourhood, which has a a large immigrant population, and has experienced other violent protests in the past.

“I understand that a public gathering like this arouses strong emotions, but we cannot tolerate disturbances and violence like the ones we saw on Sunday afternoon,” Malmo police area commander Petra Stenkula told local media.

“It is extremely regrettable to once again see violence and vandalism at Rosengard.”

Scandinavia has witnessed a spate of Quran burnings this year.

In June, Mr Momika set fire to a copy outside Stockholm’s central mosque, as Muslims celebrated the first day of Eid al-Adha – one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar.

Swedish police had given Mr Momika a permit for the protest, in accordance with their staunch free-speech laws. It later emerged the incident was being investigated for incitement of hatred.

In January, Rasmus Paludan, a politician from the Danish far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party, burnt a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Last month, neighbouring Denmark, which has also seen a several public burnings of the Quran, said it planned to ban public desecration of holy books.

Sweden has pledged to explore legal means of abolishing protests that involve burning texts in certain circumstances.