Attempted demonstration in front of Danish embassy after burning Quran

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi security forces foiled an attempted demonstration outside the Danish embassy in Baghdad early on Saturday to protest the alleged Koran burning a day earlier in Copenhagen, according to a government source and video released on social media.

The incident, in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, came two days after protesters stormed and set fire to the Swedish embassy in Stockholm in protest against plans to burn Qurans.

The Iraqi government condemned the attack on the Swedish embassy, ​​but also expelled the Swedish ambassador.

A man set fire to a book believed to be a Quran on Friday in a square in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The event was broadcast live on the Facebook page of a group calling itself the “Danish Patriots”. The video shows the book burning in an aluminum tray next to an Iraqi flag on the ground.

Danish Foreign Minister Lars Loke Rasmussen condemned the book burning on Danish TV channel DR, calling it a “stupid” act by some individuals.

He said, “Insulting other’s religion is a shameful act.”

“The same applies to the burning of the Quran and other religious symbols. It serves no other purpose than to incite and create division,” he said. However, he clarified that burning religious books is not a crime in Denmark.

Swedish police allowed a demonstration outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday, during which organizers planned to burn Qurans and an Iraqi flag. Ultimately, the protesters trampled and partially destroyed a book which they presented as the Quran, but left after an hour without burning the book.

The incident prompted Middle Eastern states including Saudi Arabia and Iran to summon representatives of Swedish diplomatic missions in their countries in protest.

Iran on Saturday urged Denmark and Sweden to take action to stop repeated attacks on the Quran in the Nordic countries, saying Muslims around the world hoped such acts would stop.

Quran burning is allowed in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, countries where freedom of expression is protected by law.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that those who burned the Koran deserve “severe punishment” and demanded that Sweden “hand over the perpetrators of this act to the judicial system of Islamic countries”.

concrete action

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said, “Iran believes that it is the responsibility of the Danish government to stop the insults to the Quran and the saints of Islam, as well as to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of these insults.”

Public opinion in the Muslim world expects “concrete action” from the Danish government, Nasser Kanani said in a statement quoted by state media.

The Danish Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Iran, which has postponed sending a new ambassador to Sweden, also said it would not accept a new Swedish diplomatic representative in return because of the attacks on the Quran.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state television, “According to the instructions of the President (Ibrahim Raisi), their new (Swedish) ambassador will not be accepted and our new ambassador will not be sent to Sweden until they take effective steps.”

A Swedish government spokesman said there was a telephone conversation on Friday between the Swedish and Iranian foreign ministers, but declined to provide further details.

The Iraqi president, for his part, called on international organizations and Western governments to “end provocations and abhorrent practices, whatever their pretext”.

He also warned Iraqis against the risk of a “treason plot” intended to show that Iraq was not safe for foreign missions.

(Reporting by Timor Azhari in Baghdad and Louise Rasmussen in Copenhagen, Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Hatem Maher in Cairo, Writing by Tom Perry; French edition by Kate Entringer)

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