Protesters set fire to Swedish embassy in Baghdad over desecration of Holy Quran

Protesters gather near the embassy in Baghdad hours after the embassy was stormed and set on fire before a possible Quran burning in Stockholm on July 20, 2023. A demonstrator holds up a Quran as smoke billows from the Swedish embassy building.  - Reuters
Protesters gather near the embassy in Baghdad hours after the embassy was stormed and set on fire before a possible Quran burning in Stockholm on July 20, 2023. A demonstrator holds up a Quran as smoke billows from the Swedish embassy building. – Reuters
  • Angry protesters set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.
  • They were opposing the burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden.
  • Sweden has given permission for the proposed holy Quran burning later today.

Hundreds of protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in central Baghdad on Thursday morning, scaled its walls and set it on fire against plans to burn the Holy Quran in Sweden.

The press office of the Swedish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that all staff at the Baghdad embassy were safe, condemning the attack and highlighting the need for Iraqi authorities to protect diplomatic missions.

According to posts on a popular Telegram group linked to the influential cleric and other pro-Sadr media, Thursday’s demonstration was called by supporters of cleric Muqtada Sadr to protest plans to burn Qurans in Sweden for the second time in weeks.

Security forces deploy water cannons as protesters gather near the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, hours after the embassy was stormed and set on fire before a possible Quran burning in Stockholm, Iraq, July 20, 2023.  - Reuters
Security forces deploy water cannons as protesters gather near the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, hours after the embassy was stormed and set on fire before a possible Quran burning in Stockholm, Iraq, July 20, 2023. – Reuters

Sadr, one of Iraq’s most powerful men, has millions of followers whom he has called on the streets several times, including last summer when he stormed Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone and engaged in deadly clashes.

swedish news agency TT Reports on Wednesday said Swedish police accepted an application for a public meeting outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday.

The application stated that the applicant wanted to burn the Quran and the Iraqi flag. TT informed of.

A series of videos posted on the Telegram group, One Baghdad, showed people gathering around the embassy at around 1am on Thursday (2200 GMT on Wednesday) chanting pro-Sadr slogans and storming the embassy compound about an hour later.

Protesters chanted, “Yes, yes to the Quran.”

Later in the video, smoke billowed from a building in the embassy compound and protesters were seen standing on its roof. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Quran opposes

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the incident and said in a statement that the Iraqi government has instructed security forces to conduct a quick investigation, identify and hold the perpetrators accountable.

By Thursday morning, security forces had been deployed inside the embassy, ​​and smoke billowed from the building as firefighters extinguished stubborn embers. reuters Witness.

Most of the protesters had turned back and a few dozen people had gathered outside the embassy.

Late last month, Sadr called for protests against Sweden and the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador after an Iraqi man burned a Quran in Stockholm.

In this screen grab from a social media video, protesters gather near the Swedish embassy which was stormed before an expected Quran burning in Stockholm, Baghdad, Iraq, June 20, 2023.  - Reuters
In this screen grab from a social media video, protesters gather near the Swedish embassy which was stormed before an expected Quran burning in Stockholm, Baghdad, Iraq, June 20, 2023. – Reuters

Swedish police charged the man with agitation against an ethnic or national group. In a newspaper interview, he described himself as an Iraqi refugee who is calling for a ban on the Koran, Islam’s central religious text.

The burning of the Quran was followed by two large protests outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, with protesters vandalizing the embassy grounds on one occasion.

The governments of several Muslim countries, including Iraq, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco, issued protests regarding the incident, with Iraq seeking the man’s extradition to face trial in the country.

The United States also condemned it, but added that Sweden’s issuance of the permits supported freedom of expression and was not an endorsement of action.


– Additional input from Reuters

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