Sweden PM Kristersson urges calm after Quran burning protests

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Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Friday called for calm and reflection in the wake of this week’s protest in which a Quran was burned outside a Stockholm mosque, which has sparked outrage and condemnation.

“It is difficult to say what the consequences will be. I think there are many people who have reason to reflect,” Kristersson told a press conference.

On Wednesday, a Quran burning protest that coincided with the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha and the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia sparked anger across the Muslim world.

After being granted a permit to protest by Swedish police, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Islamic holy book and set several pages alight in front of the capital's largest mosque on Wednesday.

In Iraq, protesters on Thursday briefly breached the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.

“It is of course completely unacceptable to have people who unlawfully break into Swedish embassies in other countries,” Kristersson said.

The head of government added there was also no reason “to insult other people,” referring to Momika’s actions.

“I think that just because some things are legal they are not necessarily appropriate,” Kristersson said.

Swedish police had granted him a permit in line with free-speech protections, but later said they had opened an investigation over “agitation against an ethnic group,” noting that he had performed the burning so close to the mosque.

The authorization for the protest came two weeks after a Swedish appeals court rejected the police's decision to deny permits for two demonstrations in Stockholm which were to include Quran burnings.

Police had at the time cited security concerns, following a burning of the Muslim holy book outside Turkey’s embassy in January which led to weeks of protests, calls for a boycott of Swedish goods and further stalled Sweden’s NATO membership bid -- which is being blocked by Turkey.

After the January burning Turkey temporarily broke off NATO talks with Sweden, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also slammed the latest burning.

But Kristersson stressed it was too early to say what the consequences of this week’s events would be.

“I think we should focus on the right things now, it’s important that Sweden becomes a member of NATO. We have important and large issues to deal with,” he said.

Read more:

US condemns burning of Quran in Sweden

UAE, Jordan, and Iran summon Sweden’s ambassador over Quran burning in Stockholm

Iraqi protesters briefly breach Swedish embassy in Baghdad over burning of Quran

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