STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Protests in Stockholm on Saturday towards Turkey and Sweden’s bid to hitch NATO, together with the burning of a duplicate of the Holy Quran, heightened tensions with Turkey at a time when the Scandinavian nation wants Ankara’s help to achieve entry. for the army alliance.
Turkey’s Overseas Ministry mentioned, “We condemn within the strongest phrases the despicable assault on our holy e book… Permitting this anti-Islamic act that targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, underneath the quilt of freedom of expression, is completely unacceptable.” He mentioned.
Her assertion was issued after a far-right anti-immigration politician burned a duplicate of the Quran close to the Turkish embassy. The Turkish Ministry urged Sweden to take essential measures towards the perpetrators and referred to as on all international locations to take concrete steps towards Islamophobia.
A separate demonstration happened within the metropolis in help of the Kurds and towards Sweden’s try to hitch NATO. A gaggle of pro-Turkish protesters additionally held a rally outdoors the embassy. All three occasions had police clearances.
Swedish Overseas Minister Tobias Billström mentioned the anti-Islam provocations had been appalling.
“Sweden has far-reaching freedom of expression, but it surely doesn’t imply that the Swedish authorities, or I, endorse the opinions which can be expressed,” Billstrom mentioned on Twitter.
The Koran was burned by Rasmus Paludan, chief of the Danish far-right Laborious Line celebration. Paludan, who additionally holds Swedish citizenship, has organized a lot of demonstrations up to now the place Qurans have been burned.
Paludan couldn’t be instantly reached by e-mail for remark. The assertion he obtained from the police said that his protest was towards Islam and what he referred to as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s try and affect freedom of expression in Sweden.
A number of Arab international locations, together with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait, condemned the burning of the Qur’an. “Saudi Arabia requires spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence, and rejects hatred and extremism,” the Saudi Overseas Ministry mentioned in a press release.
Sweden and Finland final yr utilized to hitch NATO within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however all 30 member states must conform to their affords. Turkey mentioned Sweden particularly ought to first take a clearer stance towards what it views as terrorists, largely Kurdish militants and the group it blames for the 2016 coup try.
On the demonstration to protest Sweden’s bid for NATO and to indicate help for the Kurds, audio system stood in entrance of a giant pink banner studying “We’re all of the PKK”, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Staff’ Get together (PKK) in Turkey, Sweden and america. Amongst different international locations, he addressed a number of hundred pro-Kurds and leftists.
“We are going to proceed to oppose Sweden’s request for NATO,” Thomas Peterson, a spokesman for the coalition towards NATO and one of many organizers of the demonstration, instructed Reuters.
Police mentioned the scenario was calm in the course of the three demonstrations.
The go to of the Minister of Protection was cancelled
Earlier on Saturday, Turkey mentioned that as a result of an absence of measures to curb protests, it had canceled a deliberate go to to Ankara by the Swedish protection minister.
Swedish Protection Minister Hulusi Akar mentioned, “At this stage, Swedish Protection Minister Pal Johnson’s go to to Turkey on January 27 has develop into meaningless. Due to this fact, we have now canceled the go to.”
Johnson mentioned individually that he met Akar on Friday throughout a gathering of Western allies in Germany and so they determined to postpone the scheduled assembly.
Akar mentioned he mentioned with Erdogan the dearth of measures to curb protests in Sweden towards Turkey and conveyed Ankara’s response to Johnson on the sidelines of a gathering of the Ukraine Protection Contact Group.
“It’s unacceptable to not take a step or reply to those (protests). Essential measures ought to have been taken,” Akar mentioned, in keeping with a press release from the Turkish Protection Ministry.
The Turkish Overseas Ministry had already summoned the Swedish ambassador on Friday over the deliberate protests.
Finland and Sweden signed a trilateral settlement with Turkey in 2022 geared toward overcoming Ankara’s objections to their NATO membership. Sweden says it has fulfilled its a part of the warrant, however Turkey calls for extra, together with the extradition of 130 folks it considers terrorists.
(This story has been corrected to take away the misguided reference to Morocco within the ninth paragraph.)
Reporting by Omer Berberoglu in Istanbul and Niklas Pollard and Simon Johnson in Stockholm (further reporting) By Moaz Abdelaziz in Cairo Writing by Ezge Erkoyun and Niklas Pollard Enhancing by Toby Chopra and Frances Kerry
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