A supporter of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr wearing a traffic cone on his masked head and holding an Iraqi flag defaced with slogans supporting the Prophet Mohamed stands at a protest outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on July 20, 2023. Protesters set fire to Sweden’s embassy in the Iraqi capital early on July 20 ahead of a planned burning of a Koran in Sweden. Swedish authorities approved an assembly to be held later on July 20 outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, where organisers plan to burn a copy of the Koran as well as an Iraqi flag. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)
OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:30 PM – Thursday, July 20, 2023
Protesters attacked the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city, in the early hours of Thursday in protest of a scheduled Quran burning in Sweden.
According to Reuters, videos posted online showed protestors chanting, scaling the embassy’s walls, and setting fire to the structure. Later, security officers arrived and cleared the area as firemen quenched the fires.
It was reported that all embassy personnel were safe, according to a statement issued by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which strongly denounced the incident.
Sweden had summoned Iraq’s charge d’affaires on Thursday.
Protests were held in response to the planned burning of a Quran, the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation from God. This is the second time in which such an event has been permitted by Swedish police in recent weeks, scheduled to take place outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday.
The Baghdad march was organized by supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, one of Iraq’s most important personalities.
The Iraqi government “had instructed security forces to carry out a swift investigation, identify perpetrators, and hold them to account,” according to the nation’s foreign ministry.
“What has happened is totally unacceptable, and the government strongly condemns these attacks,” Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström said in a statement.
Billström added that Iraq has an “obligation” to protect diplomatic missions and that the nation has failed in that regard.
The Iraqi government has reportedly threatened to cut diplomatic ties if the Quran is destroyed on Thursday.
Iraq condemned the burning of the embassy in a statement attributed to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani’s office, but also said it had “informed the Swedish government… that any recurrence of the incident involving the burning of the Holy Qur’an on Swedish soil would necessitate severing diplomatic relations.”
Last month, Swedish authorities permitted the burning of a Quran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque. In response, protests were held outside Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad.
Additionally, earlier this year, Quran burnings in Sweden heightened relations with Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected Sweden’s application to join NATO, accusing Stockholm of supporting Kurdish separatists and condemning Quran burning in Turkey. However, Erdogan eventually reversed his attitude, supporting Sweden’s NATO bid after meeting with other alliance officials in Vilnius.
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