BAGHDAD: Dozens of Iraqis protested on Thursday in front of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad after a man burned a Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm.
Some of the protesters set fire to a rainbow-coloured flag representing the LGBT community and many held the Quran and portraits of populist Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and chanted “yes, yes to the Koran”.
Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned Sweden’s ambassador.
In its permit for Wednesday’s demonstration, Swedish police said that while it “may have foreign policy consequences”, the security risks and consequences linked to a Quran burning were not of such a nature that the application should be rejected.
Swedish police charged the man who burned the holy book with agitation against an ethnic or national group.
In a newspaper interview, he described himself as an Iraqi refugee seeking to ban it.
The Iraqi ministry said he was Iraqi and urged the Swedish government to hand him over so he could be tried in accordance with Iraqi law.
The government of several Muslim countries, including Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco have also issued protests about the incident. The US also condemned it, but added that issuing the permit supported freedom of expression and was not an endorsement of the action.
Sadr had called on his followers to hold the protest and demand the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador, the cutting ties with Sweden and to keep burning the LGBT flag until the eighth day of the lunar month of Muharram because “it is what irritates them the most”, he said in a statement.
“The ambassador should go and … the embassy should not stay in Iraq at all …,” protester Moamal Abbas said.