“In strongest possible terms” is how Ankara condemned Koran-burning and protests that broke out in Stockholm on Saturday against Turkey and Sweden's bid to join NATO.
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“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book... Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
The statement was issued in response to the burning of a copy of the Koran near the Turkish Embassy by Rasmus Paludan – a far-right, anti-immigrant Danish-Sweidsh politician. The Turkish ministry called Sweden to task and demanded that the perpetrators be dealt with accordingly. The ministry also invited all countries to take concrete steps against Islamophobia.
A separate pro-Kurdish demonstration marched through the capital to protest Sweden's bid to join NATO. Meanwhile, a pro-Turkish counter-protest rallied outside the embassy. All three events had obtained the necessary police permits.
Saying that Islamophobic provocations were appalling, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom tweeted that although “Sweden has a far-reaching freedom of expression… it does not imply that the Swedish Government, or [himself], support the opinions expressed."
But this was by far not the first Koran-burning organised and perpetrated by Paludan – a Swedish citizen and the leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line.
Islamophobic provocations are appalling. Sweden has a far-reaching freedom of expression, but it does not imply that the Swedish Government, or myself, support the opinions expressed.— Tobias Billström (@TobiasBillstrom) January 21, 2023