Supporters of Iraq's Hashed Al Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) group take part in a protest denouncing the burning of the Quran. Image Credit: AFP

DUBAI/COPENHAGEN: Iraq condemned the burning of a copy of the Quran in front of its embassy in Denmark on Monday and said Danish staff at the embassy in Baghdad had left the country after protests there, while Copenhagen said it had “not withdrawn from Iraq”.

Demonstrations have raged across Iran and Iraq after Denmark and Sweden allowed the burning of the Quran under rules protecting free speech. Protesters in Iraq set the Swedish embassy in Baghdad alight on Thursday.

Two anti-Islam protesters set fire to a copy of Islam’s holy book in front of the Iraqi embassy in the Danish capital on Monday.

Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he condemned the Quran burning.

“These provocative and shameful acts do not represent the views of the Danish government. Appeal to all to deescalate - violence must never be the response,” Rasmussen said in a tweet.

Iraq’s foreign ministry called on authorities of EU countries to “quickly reconsider so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate”.

Protesters gathered in Baghdad on Saturday amid heavy security, with bridges leading to the Green Zone that houses many foreign embassies shut after an attempt by demonstrators to get to the Danish Embassy.

An Iraqi foreign ministry spokesperson said Danish staff at the embassy had left Iraq two days ago.

He did not elaborate on the reason or the exact timing.

A spokesperson for the Danish foreign ministry said the embassy in Baghdad had been closed for summer vacation since July 22.

“We have not withdrawn from Iraq,” she said.

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether staff had left the country or not for the duration of the closure.