Sweden Wants To Tighten Entry Rules After Quran Burning

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Supporters of Shiite Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr step on an LGBTQ+ rainbow flag in front of the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad in response to the burning of a Quran in Sweden, June. 30, 2023. - AP pic
Supporters of Shiite Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr step on an LGBTQ+ rainbow flag in front of the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad in response to the burning of a Quran in Sweden, June. 30, 2023. - AP pic

GENEVA, ANKARA — The Swedish government said Sunday that it wants to stop those people “who seek to come to Sweden and commit crime” in the wake of the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, in Stockholm last week.

“In May this year, the government decided to reintroduce border controls. We were clear about the reasons for this: it was primarily due to the elevated threat to Sweden linked to events such as previous demonstrations at which Qurans were burned,” Anadolu Agency reported the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the Justice Ministry has been briefed about how the Swedish police authority is organizing controls at Sweden’s internal borders in light of events connected to last Wednesday’s burning of the Muslim holy book in central Stockholm.

During a demonstration allowed by Swedish law enforcement authorities on Thursday coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old man of Iraqi origin with ties to Shia militias, was seen tearing up and setting ablaze pages of the Quran.

Widespread Condemnation

The incident took place outside the Stockholm Central Mosque and drew widespread condemnation from across the world, including Iranian authorities.

“In Sweden, freedom of expression enjoys strong protection. But naturally this does not mean that the government supports every opinion that is expressed. Public gatherings that are entirely legal can also be polarizing and offensive,” the ministry said.

“Demonstrations like that held on Wednesday are just that. And they also have serious consequences for Sweden’s internal safety and security,” it added.

“Experience tells us that both individuals who initiate these kinds of demonstrations and individuals who are prepared to use extreme violence in response to them often come to Sweden from other countries,” the ministry said, citing Momika as an example, who only has a temporary residence permit in Sweden.

Right To Prevent Entry Into Sweden

The police have the right to prevent people from entering Sweden if they threaten important public interests under the rule of law, it said.

“It is crucial that we have effective border controls,” the ministry added.

Later on Sunday, the Swedish Foreign Ministry sent a written statement to Swedish state television SVT.

“The Swedish government understands that the Islamophobic acts of individuals carried out during the recent demonstrations in the country may be offensive to Muslims,” it said.

The statement “strongly” condemned these acts, which “do not reflect the views of the Swedish government in any way”, according to Anadolu Agency. 

It also described the burning of the Quran and other holy books as an “explicit provocation.”

“Racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Sweden or Europe,” it added. — Bernama-Anadolu Agency

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