Governments, many from the Middle East, issue strong statements while Morocco recalls its ambassador.
Officials from a number of countries, including many in the Middle East, have condemned the desecration of the Quran by a man in Sweden’s capital during a protest authorised by police.
Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi who fled to Sweden several years ago, tore up and lit pages of the Islamic holy book on fire on Thursday as Muslims celebrated the Eid al-Adha holiday.
The act outside the Stockholm Central Mosque prompted international condemnation. Here are some of the reactions:
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan called the Quran desecration “despicable”.
“It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression,” Fidan wrote on Twitter. “Turning a blind eye to such atrocious acts is to be complicit.”
Turkey’s condemnation carries weight. The country is blocking Sweden’s NATO membership bid over what it sees as Stockholm’s failure to crack down on Kurdish groups it considers “terrorists”.In January, a similar incident involving Rasmus Paludan, a far-right politician who burned a Quran in Stockholm near the Turkish embassy, exacerbated tensions between the two countries.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told Sweden’s leaders at the time: “If you do not show respect to the religious beliefs of the Republic of Turkey or Muslims, you will not receive any support for NATO from us.”
Morocco went beyond a statement of condemnation and recalled its ambassador to Sweden for an indefinite period.
The kingdom’s foreign ministry also called on Sweden’s chargé d’affaires in Rabat and expressed its “strong condemnation of this attack and its rejection of this unacceptable act”, according to state media.
The US Department of State expressed its opposition to the burning of the Quran while also urging Turkey to approve Sweden’s NATO bid.
“The burning of religious texts is disrespectful and hurtful, and what might be legal is certainly not necessarily appropriate,” spokesperson Vedant Patel said.
“Broadly, we continue to encourage Hungary and Turkey to ratify the accession protocol of Sweden without delay.”
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson called the incident “provocative, ill-considered and unacceptable”.
“The government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran… do not tolerate such an insult and strongly condemn it,” said Nasser Kanani.
“The Swedish government is expected to seriously consider the principle of responsibility and accountability in this regard, while preventing the repetition of insulting the holy sanctities,” he added.
The Saudi foreign ministry also condemned the burning.
“These hateful and repeated acts cannot be accepted with any justification,” it said.
Egypt said Momika’s act was “shameful”, especially since it took place on Eid al-Adha.
The foreign ministry also voiced concern about “repeated incidents” of the burning of the Quran in Europe.
“Egypt expresses its deep concern about the repeated incidents of burning the Holy Qur’an and the recent escalation of Islamophobia and crimes of blasphemy of religions in some European countries, affirming its total rejection of all reprehensible practices that affect the constants and religious beliefs of Muslims,” it said in a statement.
Iraq called the act “racist” and “irresponsible”, adding that it condemns “the repeated acts of burning copies of the holy Koran by individuals with extremist and disturbed minds”.
“They are not only racist but also promote violence and hatred,” the Iraqi government said in a statement.
“These irresponsible actions, in direct conflict with the values of respect for diversity and the beliefs of others, are unequivocally condemned,” the government added.
Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr urged people to protest outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad to demand the removal of the ambassador, calling Sweden “hostile to Islam”.
Jordan also condemned the act, calling it “racist” and an “incitement”.
“The Ministry affirmed that burning the Holy Qur’an is an act of dangerous hate, and a manifestation of Islamophobia that incites violence and insulting religions and cannot be considered a form of freedom of expression at all,” the kingdom said in a statement.
Jordan said rejecting “extremism” is a “collective responsibility that everyone must abide by”.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the burning was a “dangerous, provocative step that inflames the feelings of Muslims around the world”.
It called on the international community and governments “to take responsibility for swift action to renounce feelings of hatred, extremism and religious intolerance”.
The Yemeni government rejected the incident as one “deliberately provoking the feelings of Muslims around the world on holy Islamic occasions by a hateful extremist movement”, a statement by its foreign ministry said.
It also called for an end to the “repeated abuses” stemming from a “culture of hatred”.
Syria’s government condemned the “disgraceful act” on one of the holiest days for Muslims “by an extremist with the permission and consent of the Swedish government”.
The Palestinian foreign ministry called the desecration a “flagrant attack on human rights, values of tolerance, acceptance of others, democracy and peaceful coexistence among followers of all religions”.