Egypt’s al-Azhar calls for boycotts over Quran burning in Sweden

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Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s most prestigious educational institution, has called for the boycott of Swedish and Dutch products after far-right protesters destroyed Qurans in those countries.

Al-Azhar, in a statement issued Wednesday, called on “Muslims to boycott Dutch and Swedish products.”

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It also urged “an appropriate response from the governments of these two countries” which it charged were “protecting despicable and barbaric crimes in the name of ‘freedom of expression’.”

Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm, raising tensions as Sweden courts Ankara over its bid to join NATO.

The following day, Edwin Wagensveld, who heads the Dutch chapter of the German anti-Islam group Pegida, tore pages out of the Quran during a one-man protest outside parliament.

Images on social media also showed him walking on the torn pages of the holy book.

The desecration of the Quran sparked strong protests from Ankara and furious demonstrations in several capitals of the Muslim world including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry “strongly condemned” the Quran burning, expressing “deep concern at the recurrence of such events and the recent Islamophobic escalation in a certain number of European countries.”

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson condemned Paludan’s actions as “deeply disrespectful,” while the United States called it “repugnant.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday said the burning was the work of “a provocateur” who “may have deliberately sought to put distance between two close partners of ours – Turkey and Sweden.”

On Tuesday, Turkey postponed NATO accession talks with Sweden and Finland, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Stockholm for allowing weekend protests that included the burning of the Quran.

Read more:

Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries condemn tearing of Quran in Netherlands

Turkey postpones NATO meeting with Sweden, Finland

Hundreds protest in Afghan city of Khost against Quran burning in Sweden

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