Police officers intervene as people protest “vile” and “despicable” act outside Stockholm's central mosque on June 28, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s foreign minister condemned the burning of several pages from the Quran in Sweden on Wednesday as “vile” and “despicable”.

A man carried out the protest outside Stockholm’s main mosque after Swedish police granted a permit for the protest, which coincided with the start of Eid Al Adha.

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“I curse the despicable act committed against our Holy Book, the Holy Quran, on the first day of Eid Al Adha,” Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said on Twitter.

“It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression.

“Turning a blind eye to such atrocious acts is to be complicit,” he added.

Salwan Momika, 37, who fled from Iraq to Sweden several years ago, had asked police for permission to burn the Muslim holy book “to express my opinion about the Quran”.

Ahead of the protest, Momika told news agency TT he also wanted to highlight the importance of freedom of speech.

The police authorisation for the protest came two weeks after a Swedish appeals court rejected the police’s decision to deny permits for two demonstrations in Stockholm that were to include Koran burnings.

Police had at the time cited security concerns.

A burning of the Muslim holy book outside Turkey’s embassy in January led to weeks of protests, calls for a boycott of Swedish goods and further stalled Sweden’s Nato membership bid.

Similar acts have in the past sparked violent protests and outrage across the Muslim world.

Ankara took particular offence that police had authorised the January demonstration.

Turkey has blocked Sweden’s Nato bid due to what it perceives as Stockholm’s failure to crack down on Kurdish groups it considers “terrorists”.

A meeting between the countries’ top diplomats is scheduled for July 6 at the Nato headquarters in Brussels, with NATO counterparts pushing for Turkey to grant the green light to Sweden by the time a summit is held in Lithuania on July 11-12.

Noa Omran, a 32-year-old artist from Stockholm, called the protest “absolutely insane”.

“It’s just hatred masquerading in the name of democracy and freedom which it isn’t,” the woman, who said her mother was from a Muslim background, told AFP at the scene.