Rioters stormed the Swedish embassy in Iraq on Wednesday, with reports suggesting that protesters set the embassy ablaze.
Rioters are currently Storming and have set Fire to the Swedish Embassy in the Iraqi Capital of Baghdad. pic.twitter.com/SUDGCP2W4V
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) July 20, 2023
According to Blaze Media, the riot started in response to the burning of a Koran in Stockholm, Sweden, weeks ago. Supporters of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr reportedly organized the riot.
Protesters could be heard chanting, “Yes, yes to the Koran!”
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) July 20, 2023
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said all embassy staff were safe while accusing the Iraqi authorities of failing to protect the embassy according to the dictates of the Vienna Convention.
Smoke is rising from the Swedish embassy building and dozens of demonstrators are still on the scene, while large… pic.twitter.com/LFcdXoEqUB
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 20, 2023
Billstrom described the incident as completely unacceptable, adding that the Swedish government condemns the attack.
“The government is in contact with high-level Iraqi representatives to express our dismay,” Billstrom said.
Sweden became a focus of Muslims’ anger since Swedish authorities allowed the burning of the Koran in front of a mosque by an Iraqi Immigrant in June.
Tensions boiled over when two men were filmed tearing out pages of the Koran and using them to wipe their shoes. The two men then sprinkled pig’s blood on the Koran before setting it ablaze.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani condemned the burning of the Swedish embassy in a statement. The prime minister declared the incident a security breach and vowed to protect diplomatic missions.
The prime minister warned the Swedish government that any further acts of burning the Koran on Swedish soil would necessitate severing diplomatic relations.
The burning of the Koran has reportedly proved to be a stumbling block to Sweden’s ambition to join NATO. According to Blaze Media, Sweden needs Turkey’s approval to enter NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cited the burning of the Koran as a reason why he would oppose Sweeden’s NATO membership.
“We will eventually teach the arrogant Westerners that insulting Muslims is not freedom of thought,” Erdogan said.
The U.S. State Department has described the burning of the Koran as disrespectful and hurtful. The U.S. government, however, maintained that the Swedish government’s decision to allow the burning of the Koran was in adherence to the country’s far-reaching freedom of speech and not an endorsement of the action.