Stockholm Mosque has condemned the police for authorising an Iraqi national, Salwan Momika, to set fire to the Quran outside the mosque on Eid Al Adha yesterday.
The mosque described the incident as a “hate crime” and said the police had even refused requests for the desecration to be moved away from the mosque vicinity.
“It is worrying that the police authority does not take our concerns seriously and comes up with a decision that gives the signal to the rest of society that it is free to carry out a racist demonstration in front of our mosque and on our holy day,” mosque director Mahmoud Khalfi said.
“The mosque suggested to the police that they at least divert the demonstration to another location, which is possible by law, but they chose not to do so.”
The Quran burning has been condemned by many Muslim-majority countries and has caused widespread anger.
Dozens of people stormed the compound of the Swedish embassy in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, today after a powerful cleric called for an “angry” protest.
The incident has also sparked anger in other Muslim-majority nations including Turkey – a Nato member which has a say over whether Sweden also gains membership.
Turkey said it was “unacceptable” to allow such “anti-Islamic actions” to take place “under the pretext of freedom of expression.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We will eventually teach the arrogant Westerners that insulting Muslims is not freedom of thought.”
Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have also strongly criticised the burning while Morocco and Jordan have recalled their ambassadors to Stockholm.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said the Quran burning was “legal but not appropriate.”
Here is the statement by Stockholm Mosque in full:
“The Stockholm Mosque expresses its deep disappointment that a man has been allowed by the police to burn a Quran outside the mosque during our holy holiday, Eid al-Adha. A decision that we condemn in the strongest possible terms.
“The Eid prayer is one of the mosque’s biggest highlights of the year. There are upwards of 10,000 visitors to the mosque and many of them are families with children. Outside the mosque, young volunteers are working to collect money for charity, sweets are handed out to the younger ones and it’s generally a happy event.
“In order to achieve a traditional Eid celebration, representatives from the mosque have participated in meetings and had dialogue with the police authority, where they expressed their concern about their decision. During the meeting, the mosque stated that Quran burning is an expression of an anti-Muslim manifestation and something that should be classified as a hate crime. In addition, freedom of religion is a fundamental right that should be safeguarded and protected according to Swedish law.
“It is important to point out that burning books as a method of spreading hatred is not a new phenomenon in history. During the Spanish Inquisition, books deemed “heretical” or “heretical” were burned, which included books written by Jews, Muslims, and other religious minorities. During Adolf Hitler’s rule, massive book fires were carried out where the Nazis burned books that were considered “inappropriate” or threatening to the Nazi ideology. Many of the burned books were written by Jewish authors, authors with socialist or communist views, as well as books that were considered “anti-German” or “degenerate”. Regardless of who the senders have been, history has taught us what these actions have led to.
“Stockholm Mosque protects a peaceful and inclusive coexistence in our society. We believe in dialogue with organizations and authorities and we always encourage our visitors to get involved in order to contribute to society. It is the mosque’s strategy to counter intolerance, hatred and extremism. Therefore, it is worrying that the police authority does not take our concerns seriously and comes up with a decision that gives the signal to the rest of society that it is free to carry out a racist demonstration in front of our mosque and on our holy day. The mosque suggested to the police that they at least divert the demonstration to another location, which is possible by law, but they chose not to do so.
“We follow social developments in the country with concern. Islamophobia in society is being normalised to a greater extent and every day the religious freedom for Swedish Muslims is shrinking. The decision to allow the person to burn a Quran outside our mosque during our holiday is unfortunately another setback for a more tolerant and just society.”