ISTANBUL: Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it summoned the Dutch ambassador following a demonstration targeting Islam’s holy book, days after a similar protest in Sweden tensed relations.
Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, on Sunday tore pages out of a copy of the Quran near the Dutch parliament and stomped on the pages. Police looked on but did not intervene.
“It is about freedom of expression and I think that should be possible in the Netherlands,” Wagensveld said in a video posted on the site of Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.
The Turkish foreign ministry said in its statement that it condemned the “vile attack,” which it said was proof of Islamophobia, discrimination and xenophobia in Europe. The ministry told the Dutch ambassador they expected concrete precautions to prevent and not permit similar demonstrations in the future, and that authorities take action against Wagensveld.
Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands were shattered in 2017 when Dutch authorities barred Turkish officials from campaigning for a referendum among the Turkish diaspora there. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan upped the ante by comparing the Dutch to Nazis, and ambassadors were withdrawn.
On Saturday, a far-right anti-Islam activist burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. Turkey strongly condemned the act and Sweden for allowing the demonstration, with Erdogan declaring Sweden shouldn’t expect Turkey’s support for its NATO bid.