January 24, 2023
Iraqi riot Police prevent Protesters from reaching the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad on January 23, 2023, © AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP
BAGHDAD – An Iraqi policeman and seven protesters were injured Monday during a rally outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad against the burning of a Koran in Stockholm, a security source said.
Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of Turkey’s embassy in the Swedish capital.
Iraqi police on Monday confronted more than 400 protesters outside the embassy when they came too close to the building, an Iraqi interior ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to reporters.
During the rally, which was organised by pro-Iran groups, protesters chanted, “No to Sweden, yes to the Koran”. As police pushed the demonstrators back, violence erupted.
“Protesters threw stones and the police used their truncheons,” the interior ministry official said, adding that seven protesters and a policeman were injured.
The protesters then scattered, an AFP photographer said.
Many Muslim countries have said they were outraged by the burning of the Koran, which Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson condemned as “deeply disrespectful”.
Paludan’s actions in Stockholm have raised tensions with Turkey as Sweden courts Ankara over its bid to join NATO.
In neighbouring Syria, in the northern town of Al-Bab, which is under the control of Turkish soldiers, a few hundred people also demonstrated on Monday for the same reason, torching the Swedish flag and chanting anti-Swedish slogans.