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Turkey Condemns Swedish Decision To Approve Quran-Burning Protest, Threatens NATO Bid

Turkey condemns Swedish decision to approve Quran-burning protest and may jeopardize Sweden's bid to join NATO. Only one person and his translator were present at the demonstration, which took place on Wednesday during the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha.

Mariella Blankenship
Jun 29, 2023595 Shares14172 Views
Turkey condemns Swedish decision to approve Quran-burning protestand may jeopardize Sweden's bid to join NATO.
The demonstration, which took place on Wednesday during the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, was attended by only one person and his translator. Images of the event circulated, sparking outrage and concern.

Freedom Of Speech Vs. Inflammatory Protest

Swedish police defended their decision, stating that allowing the protest was in line with the right to freedom of speech and that it did not pose an immediate security risk.
However, Turkey, as a NATO member state and a major obstacle to Sweden's NATO accession bid, strongly condemned the protest.
Turkey's foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, called it a "heinous act" and criticized the Swedish authorities for allowing anti-Islamic actions under the guise of freedom of expression.

Backlash From Turkey And Potential Consequences

The Turkish government, through its Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun, expressed frustration with the recurring instances of Islamophobia and hatred towards Islam in European countries, particularly Sweden.
Altun emphasized that countries seeking NATO membership should not tolerate or enable destructive behavior from Islamophobic and xenophobic individuals.
NATO officials are anxious to avoid the embarrassment of missing the deadline for Sweden's admission to the alliance, scheduled for the upcoming summit in Vilnius.
Turkey's resistance to Sweden's accession has complicated the process. The recent Quran-burning demonstration and the backlash from Turkey further strain relations and raise doubts about Sweden's chances of joining NATO.

Turkey threatens to block Sweden's NATO bid after a Quran-burning at a protest | DW News

Turbulent Turkish-Swedish Relations

This incident is not the first to strain Turkish-Swedish relations. Earlier this year, a rally outside Stockholm's Turkish Embassy resulted in the burning of a copy of the Quran, which sparked anger in Ankara.
The Swedish government was blamed for allowing the act to take place, heightening tensions between the two nations.
According to an Eastern European diplomat, any delay in Sweden's accession to NATO could embolden the alliance's adversaries and give the impression of President Erdogan's influence within NATO.
The diplomat warned that Erdogan might exploit the situation to pressure Sweden and make them hostage to their own anti-terrorism laws.

Sweden's Efforts And Freedom Of Speech Debate

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom highlighted the steps Sweden has taken to meet the requirements set by Turkey for NATO membership. This includes implementing new legislation to combat terrorism.
However, the decision to permit the Quran-burning protest may undermine Sweden's efforts and further damage its relationship with Turkey.
The protester, Salwan Momika, identified as an atheist and justified his demonstration based on his belief that the Quran poses a danger to democracy, ethics, human values, human rights, and women's rights.
He expressed frustration over the court battles he faced leading up to the demonstration.

Balancing Security Risks And Freedom Of Speech

The Swedish police granted the permit for the demonstration, acknowledging that Quran burnings carry an increased risk of a terrorist attack and can have foreign policy consequences.
However, they emphasized that clear connections to the planned gathering or immediate surroundings were necessary to refuse a general assembly. The ongoing fire ban in Stockholm did not outweigh the protester's freedom of speech.
While freedom of speech is a fundamental right, the decision to allow the Quran-burning protest has sparked controversy and strained relations between Sweden and Turkey.
The consequences for Sweden's NATO bid remain uncertain as the alliance seeks to navigate this delicate situation.

Final Thoughts

The decision by Swedish authorities to permit a small Quran-burning protest outside a mosque in Stockholm has ignited controversy and drawn condemnation from Turkey.
The incident has the potential to jeopardize Sweden's bid to join NATO, with concerns raised about strained relations and the impact on the alliance's perception.
Balancing freedom of speech and potential security risks remains a challenge, as Sweden navigates the aftermath of the protest and works towards its NATO accession.
The outcome of this situation will have implications for both countries and the future dynamics within the alliance.
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