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Swedish police give go-ahead to Quran burning outside Stockholm mosque

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Swedish police give go-ahead to Quran burning outside Stockholm mosque
File photo of the mosque on Stockholm's Södermalm island. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Swedish police have given a man permission to burn a copy of the Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm on Wednesday afternoon.

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The organisers plans to burn a Quran outside Stockholm's main mosque as Muslims gather to mark the start of the three-day Eid al-Adha holiday.

The police said in the written decision to grant the permit that the security risks associated with the burning "were not of a nature that could justify, under current laws, a decision to reject the request."

The green light came two weeks after a Swedish appeals court rejected the police's decision to deny permits for two demonstrations in Stockholm which were to include Quran burnings.

Police had at the time cited security concerns, following a burning of the Muslim holy book outside Turkey's embassy in January which led to weeks of protests, calls for a boycott of Swedish goods and further stalled Sweden's Nato membership bid.

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Turkey, which has blocked the bid due to what it perceives as Stockholm's failure to crack down on Kurdish groups it views as "terrorists", took particular offence that police had authorised the January demonstration.

Police then banned two subsequent requests for protests involving Quran burnings -- one by a private individual and one by an organisation, outside the Turkish and Iraqi embassies in Stockholm in February.

The appeals court in mid-June ruled that police were wrong to ban those, saying "the order and security problems" referenced by the police did not have "a sufficiently clear connection to the planned event or its immediate vicinity."

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The request for the Wednesday demonstration was made by the same private individual who had his previous request blocked.

"I want to protest in front of the large mosque in Stockholm, and I want to express my opinion about the Quran... I will tear up the Quran and burn it," Salwan Momika, 37, wrote in the application, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Swedish daily DN reports that police in the permit approval warned the applicant to keep up to date with current rules on lighting fires. There is currently a fire ban in all of the Stockholm region due to the heightened risk of wildfires.

Police said on Wednesday they had called in reinforcements from across the country to maintain order.

An AFP correspondent said several police cars were already parked near the mosque early on Wednesday.

Swedish politicians have criticised Quran burnings, but have also adamantly defended the right to freedom of expression.

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