Turkey denounced Sweden after protests in entrance of its embassy in Stockholm together with the burning of a Quran by far-right supporters and a separate demonstration by Kurdish activists.
Ankara mentioned on Saturday it was cancelling a go to by Sweden’s defence minister geared toward overcoming Turkey’s objections to its NATO membership. Sweden wants Turkey’s backing to realize entry to the army alliance as fears in Europe develop after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Quran burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, chief of Danish far-right political social gathering Hard Line. In April final yr, Paludan’s announcement of a Quran burning “tour” throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan sparked riots throughout Sweden.
Surrounded by police, Paludan set fireplace to the holy ebook with a lighter following an extended diatribe of just about an hour, in which he attacked Islam and immigration in Sweden. About 100 folks gathered close by for a peaceable counterdemonstration.
“If you don’t think there should be freedom of expression, you have to live somewhere else,” he mentioned.
The Turkish international ministry responded instantly in an announcement.
“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 ministry mentioned.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu vented fury at Swedish authorities’ failure to ban the protest. “It’s a racist action, it’s not about freedom of expression,” he mentioned.
Several Arab nations – together with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait – additionally denounced the Quran-burning.
“Saudi Arabia calls for spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance, and coexistence, and rejects hatred and extremism,” the Saudi international ministry mentioned in an announcement.
A small group gathered outdoors the Swedish embassy in Ankara to protest the Quran-burning. A protest was additionally scheduled to happen in Istanbul on Saturday night.
‘Clear crime of hatred’
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom known as the Islamophobic provocations “appalling”.
“Sweden has a far-reaching freedom of expression, but it does not imply that the Swedish Government, or myself, support the opinions expressed,” Billstrom mentioned on Twitter.
A separate protest passed off in the town supporting Kurds and in opposition to Sweden’s bid to affix NATO. A gaggle of pro-Turkish demonstrators additionally held a rally outdoors the embassy. All three occasions had police permits.
Demonstrators waved flags of varied Kurdish teams, together with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in opposition to Turkey. The PKK is taken into account a terrorist group in Turkey, the European Union, and the United States, however its symbols usually are not banned in Sweden.
Turkey earlier was angered by Sweden’s inexperienced mild for the protest in entrance of its embassy amid ongoing tensions following Ankara’s objections to Sweden’s bid to affix the NATO army alliance.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar denounced Sweden’s authorities for failing to take measures in opposition to “disgusting” anti-Turkish protests on its soil. Akar mentioned the scheduled January 27 go to by his Swedish counterpart Pål Jonson not held “any importance or point”.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin condemned the demonstration as a “clear crime of hatred”.
“Allowing this action despite all our warnings is encouraging hate crimes and Islamophobia,” he tweeted. “The attack on sacred values is not freedom but modern barbarism.”
Billström informed TT information company on Friday that Sweden respects freedom of speech.
Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador on Friday to sentence the protests, saying rallies by pro-Kurdish teams linked to the PKK can be a violation of the joint memorandum signed between Turkey, Sweden and Finland that prevented a Turkish veto for the Nordic nations’ NATO accession in June.
Sweden and neighbouring Finland dropped a long time of army non-alignment final yr once they utilized to affix the Western defence alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey has to this point refused to approve their bids, which want sign-off by all member states, and tied its beneficial vote to Swedish steps to extradite folks it accuses of terrorism or of getting performed a component in the 2016 coup try in opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey argues that Sweden just isn’t doing sufficient to crack down on Kurdish teams that Ankara views as “terrorists”.
Sweden’s ambassador to Turkey was summoned final week after a video posted by a Kurdish group in Stockholm that depicted an effigy of Erdogan swinging by his legs from a rope.