BAGHDAD: Iraqi protesters breached Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad on Thursday, angered by a Quran burning outside a Stockholm mosque that sparked condemnation across the Muslim world.
A crowd of supporters of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr stayed inside the compound for about 15 minutes, then left as security forces deployed, an AFP photographer said.
“Our constitution is the Quran,” read a message on leaflets carried by the protesters, and a message sprayed on the compound’s gate said “Yes, yes to the Quran”.
The protest came a day after an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Islamic holy book and set several pages alight in front of the capital’s largest mosque.
Swedish police had granted him a permit in line with free-speech protections, but authorities later also said they had opened an investigation over “agitation”.
The Quran burning sparked anger across and beyond the Middle East at a time Muslims have observed the Eid Al Adha holiday and the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia was drawing to a close.
Iraq’s foreign ministry condemned Sweden’s decision to grant an “extremist” permission to burn the Quran and said such acts “inflame the feelings of Muslims around the world and represent a dangerous provocation.”
Sadr had called for the demonstration at the Swedish embassy to demand the removal of the ambassador, charging that his state is “hostile to Islam”.
Protester Hussain Ali Zeidan, 32, told AFP he came out to “support the noble Quran” and called to revoke Momika’s citizenship as “he does not represent Iraq”.
Saudi Arabia, which hosted around 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims for the Hajj that ended on Wednesday, also denounced the Quran burning.
“These hateful and repeated acts cannot be accepted with any justification,” its foreign ministry said.