These protests on Swedish soil are sparked by Stockholm's dispute with Ankara over the Baltics' entry into NATO

Iraqis set fire to Swedish embassy in Baghdad in response to Quran burnings

AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - La policía antidisturbios iraquí intenta dispersar a los partidarios del clérigo chiíta iraquí Moqtada al-Sadr reunidos para una protesta frente a la embajada sueca en Bagdad el 20 de julio de 2023
photo_camera AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Iraqi riot police try to disperse supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gathered for a protest outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on July 20, 2023.

The months-long standoff between Sweden and Turkey over the Ottomans' veto of Swedish NATO membership is spilling over the two countries' borders. And it should come as no surprise to anyone, when the protests in Stockholm put the spotlight on the entire Islamic religion. The first such act took place in January this year when Danish-Swedish right-winger Rasmus Paludan set fire to a copy of the holy book in front of the Turkish embassy in Sweden.

Since then, tensions have only increased, now meeting a harsh response in other countries where the conflict is spreading. This is the case in Iraq, where hundreds of demonstrators have gathered to set fire to the Swedish embassy building. This also comes in response to the expected further burning of copies of the Koran in Sweden today.

AFP/AMMAR KARIM - Irak condenó el incendio de la embajada de Suecia en Bagdad por parte de los manifestantes, dijo su Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, pidiendo fuerzas de seguridad para identificar a los responsables
AFP/AMMAR KARIM - Iraq condemned the torching of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad by protesters, its foreign ministry said, calling on security forces to identify those responsible.

The perpetrators of the attack are members of the Sadrist movement, i.e. followers of the Shiite cleric, Muqtada al Sadr. The Al Arabiya channel reported that the demonstrators threw torches inside the Swedish legation after entering Baghdad's Green Zone, where most of the embassies are located. The same media reports that riot police carried out a "heavy deployment", despite which they were unable to prevent the attack.

The response from the Swedish authorities has not been long in coming. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement saying that "we are informed of the situation. Our embassy staff are safe and the Foreign Ministry is in constant contact with them". They have also alluded to the Iraqi authorities who, despite having contained the groups with water blasts, recall that it is "their responsibility to protect diplomatic missions and their staff".

AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Los manifestantes incendiaron la embajada sueca en la capital iraquí el 20 de julio antes de la quema planeada de un Corán en Suecia
AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Protesters set fire to the Swedish embassy in the Iraqi capital on 20 July ahead of the planned burning of a Koran in Sweden.

However, an investigation has already been launched to clarify the facts and the Iraqi administration has condemned the attack on the embassy. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has expressed its condemnation "in the strongest terms of the incident of the burning of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Baghdad, in the early hours of Thursday, 20 July 2023". They added via Twitter that "this act takes place in the context of assaults on diplomatic missions and threats to their security".

Just as there have been several burnings of the The Quran in Sweden, this attack on the Swedish embassy in the Iraqi capital is not the first. On 29 June last, it was raided in protest against, as on this occasion, a burning of a copy of the Quran, which had been endorsed by the police. Even then, Sweden came under a wave of criticism from Muslim countries, leading many of them to recall their ambassadors to Sweden for consultations.

AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Partidarios del clérigo chiíta iraquí Moqtada al-Sadr durante una protesta suben la cerca frente a la embajada sueca en Bagdad el 20 de julio de 2023
AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during a protest climb the fence in front of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on 20 July 2023.

A boycott campaign of Swedish products was also launched at the same time as criticism of the Swedish authorities for allowing the burning of Islam's holy book. Now, the police have also authorised a meeting where this attack on the Islamic religion is expected to be repeated, which has already been used as a motivation for the attack that set fire to the Swedish embassy in Iraq.

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