Quran burning: Iraq declares Sweden’s ambassador ‘persona non grata’

Iraqi protestors stormed the Swedish Embassy. Pic: AA

Iraqi authorities have declared Sweden’s ambassador to Baghdad “persona non grata” after the Swedish police granted permission for a Quran burning in front of the Iraqi Embassy.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani directed his country’s Foreign Ministry to recall its charge d’affaires in Stockholm.

The Iraqi premier’s office said on Twitter that Al Sudani also directed a request to the Swedish ambassador in Baghdad to leave the country.

The move came “in response to the repeated permission of the Swedish government to burn copy of the holy Quran, insult Islamic sanctities, and burn the Iraqi flag.”

In conjunction with the Prime Minister’s decision, the head of Iraq’s Media and Communications Authority, Ali Al Moayyed, suspended the license of the Swedish Ericsson Telecom Company to operate in Iraq, according to the Iraqi News Agency.

Earlier on Thursday, Iraq threatened to sever diplomatic relations with Sweden if the desecration of the Quran occurred again in the future.

And this morning protesters in Iraq stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad and set it on fire in response to the desecration of the Quran in Sweden.

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The burning of the embassy was called by supporters of al-Sadr to protest the second planned burning of a Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm today.

While protesters in Sweden kicked and partially damaged a book they said was the Quran, they did not burn it as they had threatened to do.

Swedish media reported that Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee in Sweden, had organised the planned burning.

Salwan also burned pages of a copy of the Quran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque on June 28 during Eid al-Adha, a holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on its embassy in Baghdad, calling it a “serious violation” of the Vienna Convention.

“What happened is unacceptable and the government condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms,” Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in a statement.

“The embassy office was occupied, vandalized, and set on fire,” Billstrom said, noting that a similar incident occurred less than a month ago.

Underlining that Iraqi authorities have an unequivocal obligation to protect diplomatic missions and diplomatic staff in accordance with the Vienna Convention, he said: “It is clear that the Iraqi authorities have failed to fulfill this obligation.”

The staff at the Swedish Embassy were able to move to safety, Billstrom said, and added that the government is now reviewing what further measures need to be taken.


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