Iraq severs diplomatic ties with Sweden over anti-Quran
After a planned anti-Quran demonstration unfolded in Stockholm Thursday, an individual stepped on and kicked the Islamic holy book and Iraqi flag, Iraq severed diplomatic ties with Sweden.
Protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad for the second time in less than a month, lighting a small fire and sending plumes of smoke into the air.
Salwan Momika, an Iraqi of Christian heritage who lives in Sweden as an atheist, had threatened to burn a copy of the Quran in the Swedish capital Thursday, according to Swedish media. However, he did not do so.
The burning of a Quran outside a Stockholm mosque during the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha last month, identified by local media as Momika, provoked widespread condemnation in the Islamic world.
SWEDEN’S BURNING OF A QURAN CONVINCES THOUSANDS OF PROTESTERS ACROSS IRAQ
As a result of Thursday’s demonstration, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani expelled the Swedish ambassador from Iraq and withdrew the Iraqi charge d’affaires from Sweden.
In a statement, he stated that Iraqi authorities would prosecute those responsible for the arson at the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, as well as investigate “negligent security officials”.
The statement earlier also said his government had “informed the Swedish government that any recurrence of the incident involving the burning of the Holy Quran on Swedish soil would necessitate severing diplomatic relations”.
The head of Iraq’s Media and Communications Commission also announced that the agency had suspended the license of Swedish communications company Ericsson to operate in Iraq, and the Ministry of Communications later announced that it would stop dealing with Swedish companies.
According to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, the U.S. is offering its support to Sweden following the storming of the embassy.
He said that the U.S. strongly condemns the attack on the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad in the early hours of July 20. “Freedom of peaceful assembly is an essential hallmark of democracy, but what happened last night was an unlawful act of violence,” he said. It is unacceptable that Iraqi Security Forces failed to prevent protesters from damaging the Swedish Embassy compound for a second time.”
Demonstrators waved flags and signs showing the influential Iraqi Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr at the diplomatic post, according to online videos.
According to the Swedish Foreign Ministry, the embassy staff is safe and the ministry condemns “all attacks on diplomats and international organization staff.”
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It added, “Attacks on embassies and diplomatic staff constitute a serious violation of the Vienna Convention. Iraqi authorities have the responsibility to protect diplomatic missions and diplomatic staff.”
The Associated Press reports that the staff of the Finnish and Swedish embassies in Iraq were evacuated on Wednesday, according to Finland’s ambassador to Iraq, Matti Lassila.