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Iran, Saudi Arabia condemn Quran protest as Sweden relocates embassy staff from Iraq

Another provocative protest by Sweden-based Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika targeting Islam’s holy book has the region up in arms once again.
A supporter of the former paramilitary group Hashd al-Shaabi holds the Koran.

The desecration of a Quran by an Iraqi refugee in Sweden continues to provoke anger throughout the Middle East, with more countries condemning the attack and summoning Swedish ambassadors on Friday.

Background: Salwan Momika stepped on a Quran during a protest in the Scandinavian country on Thursday. The act was permitted by Swedish authorities on free speech grounds. Iraqi protesters stormed and set fire to Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad Thursday at dawn after news of Momika’s plans spread. Iraq condemned the attack on the embassy but also expelled the Swedish ambassador over Momika’s actions, according to Agence France-Presse.

In June, Momika set fire to a Quran and placed strips of pork bacon on it outside a mosque in Stockholm. This likewise led to widespread condemnation throughout the Middle East as well as protests in Iraq.

Reactions: Iran summoned the Swedish ambassador on Thursday, calling the events in Sweden “organized violence,” the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday condemned the Quran desecration. This followed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s denouncement on Thursday, according to the official National News Agency.

Saudi Arabia said on Friday it would summon the Swedish charge d’affaires and called on Sweden to take steps to halt further acts against the Quran, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid posted a statement on Twitter on Friday saying the attack on the Quran "goes beyond the limits of freedom of expression."

Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned on Friday what it described as a "vile attack" on the Quran.

Meanwhile, Iraq is escalating the issue. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Al-Sahhaf made phone calls to counterparts in Jordan, Turkey and Iran with the goal of convening an "emergency meeting” at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Sahhaf wants the organization to “discuss the repercussions of insulting the Holy Quran and confronting the phenomenon of Islamophobia around the world,” the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

Sweden moved its Baghdad embassy staff and operations to Stockholm on Friday for security reasons, Reuters reported.

Know more: The events in Sweden are not the first time insults to Islam in the West have led to anger and violence in the region. In 2012, there were protests as well as attacks against US diplomatic missions throughout the Middle East and North Africa in response to the movie “Innocence of Muslims.” The movie, made by a Coptic Christian, is critical of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

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