The European Union joins the international condemnations of the Quran burning incident that took place in Sweden over the past week.

  • Supporters Iraqis holding up the Holy Quran in front of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in response to the burning the holy book in Sweden, Baghdad, Iraq, June 30, 2023 (AP)
    Supporters Iraqis holding up the Holy Quran in front of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in response to the burning the holy book in Sweden, Baghdad, Iraq, June 30, 2023 (AP)

The European Union condemned Saturday the Quran burning that took place in Sweden, urging for the avoidance of escalation and underlining that in the eyes of the bloc, the burning of any holy book is a "provocation". The condemnation came in a statement issued by the European External Action Service (EEAS).

On Wednesday, a man named Salwan Momika, 37, burned a copy of the Muslim Holy book outside the Stockholm Central Mosque. He was granted a permit from Swedish authorities prior to carrying out his act. 

Momika's desecration of the Quran was made to coincide with the Muslim festivity of Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage and is celebrated by hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world.

"The EU joins the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its strong rejection of the burning of a Quran by an individual in Sweden. This act in no way reflects the opinions of the European Union,"  the EEAS said.

"Now is the time to stand together for mutual understanding and respect and to prevent any further escalation," it added.

Moreover, the body revealed that the EU was closely watching the situation in Iraq as it unfolds, as thousands of Iraqis responded by gathering near Sweden's embassy in Baghdad to protest the ordeal.

The Iraqi government described the burning of the Quran as a "heinous" act that reflects a hateful, aggressive spirit that has nothing to do with freedom of expression, but rather an act of racism and incitement to violence and hatred.

The statement added that it called for calm, stressing that it condemned any attacks on diplomatic missions.

"Burning the Quran or any other Holy Book is offensive, disrespectful, and a clear act of provocation. Manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and related intolerance have no place in Europe," the statement added.

Iran summoned Sweden's chargé d'affaires on Thursday to sound its objection to the burning of the holy book in the European country, approved by Stockholm under the guise of "freedom of speech".

The repeated incident spread outrage across Muslim countries and was highly denounced by its prominent figures and top institutions.

Upon summoning the Swedish diplomat, Iran strongly condemned the act of sacrilege against the most important of Islamic sanctities. 

Stockholm's authorization of such an act and its silence incentivized those violating the most fundamental essences of human rights, namely the principle of respecting religious values and sanctities, an Iranian official told the chargé d'affaires.

So far, the action has been condemned by Algeria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and Gulf Cooperation Council Chief Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi. The foreign ministries of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates summoned Sweden's ambassadors to hand them notes of protest.

In light of the international outrage, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson distanced himself from the incident. 

"It is difficult to say what the consequences will be. I think there are many people who have reason to reflect," Kristersson told a press conference, while the right-wing head of government believed that it was "a serious security question," adding that there's "no need to insult other people."

Kristersson urged restraint and reflection on Friday, saying, "I think that just because some things are legal, they are not necessarily appropriate."

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