A woman with a protest poster stands next to Ahmad A. (left) who has been given permission by the police for a public gathering to burn a Torah and a Bible outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, on July 15, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Stockholm: Sweden warned of a deteriorating security situation after disinformation campaigns and Quran burnings fuelled hatred against the Nordic country across the Muslim world.

The country’s Security Service said it’s “now dealing with ongoing threats of attacks directed at Sweden and Swedish interests,” according to a statement on Wednesday in which it kept the terror threat assessment at an “elevated” level of three on a five-point scale.

After being seen as a tolerant country, disinformation campaigns have changed Sweden’s image, incorrectly portraying it as “a country hostile to Islam and Muslims, where attacks on Muslims are sanctioned by the state and where Muslim children can be kidnapped by social services,” the officials said.

Burnings of Islam’s holy book, Quran, have occurred since January in Sweden, intended to derail its application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. That sparked protests in Muslim countries, and just last week the Nordic country’s embassy in Baghdad was raided and Iraq has severed ties with the Nordic country.

Sweden’s government has criticised burnings of the Quran. Police have repeatedly denied permits for demonstrations involving the desecration of the book in recent months, citing national security concerns.

But their decisions have been overturned by courts ruling that freedom of speech must be prioritised unless there is an immediate threat to public safety.

The threat assessment has been at level three since 2010. The highest level on the scale, five, signals imminent danger.