Sweden blocks Quran burning rallies over 'security concerns'
This is unusual for a country like Sweden where protests are rarely prohibited.
Sweden's police announced on Wednesday that it refused to grant permission for a rally involving the burning of a Quran, citing concerns over its national security rather than empathizing with the suffering of Turkey's nationals following the heart-wrenching earthquake that has so far claimed the lives of over 8,700 people.
This is unusual for a country like Sweden where protests are rarely prohibited. But the Swedish government has for the last few weeks made headlines over the controversial move of granting permission for a Danish far-right extremist to burn a copy of the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy.
The event was widely seen as provocative against Turkey which has so far vetoed Sweden's bid for NATO membership, including Finland's, due to their refusal of handing over several Kurdish individuals who are labeled terrorists and wanted by the Turkish government.
The request to launch the rally in which a copy of the Quran would be burned was reportedly made by a little-known Swedish association called Apallarkerna which is oddly aimed at opposing NATO membership.
Read more: We feel your pain, will continue to help: Khamenei to Syria, Turkey
But the Swedish police said it refused to grant a permit as it would inevitably result in increasing the risk of terror attacks or attacks against Swedish interests.
"The burning of the Koran outside Turkey embassy in January 2023 can be determined to have increased threats against both the Swedish society at large, but also against Sweden, Swedish interests abroad and Swedes abroad," the police decision, read by AFP, said.
"Sweden has become a higher priority target for attacks," it read.
Following the outbreak of the Ukraine war, Sweden and Finland both submitted applications to join NATO last year. However, their bids for accession require the unanimous approval of all 30 NATO member states to be considered.
Turkey is one of the two remaining countries to have not approved the applications, and they're trying to draw as many concessions as possible from the Scandinavian countries in exchange for approval on their ascension into NATO.
Read more: UNESCO sounds alarm over quake damage to Turkey, Syria heritage