Türkiye strongly condemns hateful, ‘vile’ attack on Quran in Sweden
Turkey canceled a planned visit by Sweden’s defense minister on Saturday in response to anti-Turkish protests in the Nordic country and later strongly condemned a “vile attack” on the Quran, Islam’s holy book, during those protests.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book, the Quran, in Sweden today (Jan. 21), despite our repeated warnings earlier,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.
Calling the act “an outright hate crime,” the ministry said: “Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable.”
Calling on Swedish authorities to take necessary measures against the “perpetrators of this hate crime,” the ministry said: “This despicable act is yet another example of the alarming level that Islamophobia and racist and discriminatory movements have reached in Europe.”
The ministry also urged all countries and international organizations to take concrete steps “in solidarity against Islamophobia.”
Türkiye’s condemnation came after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), was permitted to burn the Quran on Saturday outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
In response to Sweden’s permission, Ankara canceled Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson’s upcoming visit to Türkiye.
On Friday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Swedish Ambassador to Ankara Staffan Herrstrom, who was told that Türkiye “strongly condemns this provocative act, which is a hate crime, that Sweden’s attitude is unacceptable, that Ankara expects the act not to be allowed, and insults to sacred values cannot be defended under the guise of democratic rights.”
Türkiye warned Sweden that allowing propaganda activities that PKK-affiliated circles were preparing to carry out in Stockholm on Saturday was a “clear violation” of the tripartite deal, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said he was concerned that the demonstration would risk further delaying Türkiye’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid.
However, he added that it would be “very inappropriate” to call for a person not to be allowed to carry out a demonstration.
Last week, Türkiye called on Sweden to take steps against terror groups after a demonstration in Stockholm, where supporters of the PKK terrorist organization hung in effigy by the feet a figure of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then uploaded footage of the provocation along with threats against Türkiye and Erdogan.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last May, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24.
But Türkiye – a NATO member for more than 70 years – voiced objections, accusing the two countries of tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups, including the PKK and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
Last June, Türkiye and the two Nordic countries signed a memorandum at a NATO summit to address Ankara’s legitimate security concerns, paving the way for their eventual membership in the alliance.