Stockholm police refuses second Quran burning application
An application to burn a Quran outside the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm has been processed and refused by the police on Thursday as tensions with Turkey over Sweden’s NATO applications are still high.
Stockholm police have, for the second time in a row, refuse a Quran burning initially planned on Monday, SVT Nyheter reported Thursday.
“The decision is justified on the grounds that the protest could lead to an increased terrorist threat to Sweden,” the TV channel announced.
“Overall, the Security Service believes that Quran burning in itself has increased, and may increase in the future, the threat of attacks against Sweden and Swedish interests in the short term,” the police decision, which was taken in consultation with the Swedish Security Service known as Säpo, says.
“We have of course had a dialogue with Säpo before we made this decision,” said Ola Österling, press secretary at the Stockholm Police.
The Swedish Security Service has warned that threats of attacks against Sweden have increased since far-right activist Rasmus Paludan burnt a Quran outside the Turkish embassy in January, sparking anger across the Muslim world and leading Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ask for Sweden to change its laws to make it illegal.
“The reactions after the Quran burning in January have been extensive,” the Swedish Security Service wrote on their website, pointing to the “deteriorating security situation abroad” it has resulted in.
However, in a country that traditionally enjoys a high degree of freedom of expression, the ban has caused a stir among those who support total freedom of speech.
“A foreign country cannot come and tell another country how to change their laws. Especially when it weakens their freedom of speech and their freedom of assembly,” Social Democrat MEP Evin Incir told EURACTIV.
Others, such as journalist and freedom of expression expert Nils Funcke were highly critical of the police’s refusal to grant permission.
“I do not think it is enough to refer to a general threat to Sweden to deny a citizen the exercise of his democratic rights. If this becomes the guiding principle, there will be fewer demonstrations in the future,” Funcke told the Swedish media.
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)