STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Protests in Stockholm on Saturday in opposition to Turkey and Sweden’s bid to affix NATO, together with the burning of a replica of the Holy Quran, heightened tensions with Turkey at a time when the Scandinavian nation wants Ankara’s help to realize entry. for the army 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, underneath the quilt of freedom of expression, is totally unacceptable.” He stated.
Her assertion was issued after a far-right anti-immigration politician burned a replica of the Quran close to the Turkish embassy. The Turkish Ministry urged Sweden to take vital measures in opposition to the perpetrators and known as on all international locations to take concrete steps in opposition to Islamophobia.
A separate demonstration befell within the metropolis in help of the Kurds and in opposition to Sweden’s try to affix NATO. A bunch of pro-Turkish protesters additionally held a rally outdoors 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 social gathering. Paludan, who additionally holds Swedish citizenship, has organized quite a lot of demonstrations prior 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 known as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s try and 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 yr utilized to affix NATO within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however all 30 member states need to comply with 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 help 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’ Get together (PKK) in Turkey, Sweden and the US. 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, advised Reuters.
Police stated the state of affairs was calm through the three demonstrations.
The go to of the Minister of Protection was cancelled
Earlier on Saturday, Turkey stated that as a result 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 turn into meaningless. Subsequently, we now have canceled the go to.”
Johnson stated individually that he met Akar on Friday throughout a gathering of Western allies in Germany and so they 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). Crucial 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 aimed 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 individuals 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 (further reporting) By Moaz Abdelaziz in Cairo Writing by Ezge Erkoyun and Niklas Pollard Enhancing by Toby Chopra and Frances Kerry
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