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Swedish Embassy in Baghdad Stormed and Set Ablaze Due to Koran Burning Controversy

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Swedish embassy in central Baghdad on Thursday morning, expressing their outrage and setting the embassy on fire in response to plans for a Koran burning in Sweden. Thankfully, all embassy staff in Baghdad were reported to be safe, but the Swedish foreign ministry strongly condemned the attack, urging Iraqi authorities to protect diplomatic missions.

The protest was organized by supporters of influential Shi’ite cleric Muqtada Sadr, who has a substantial following and has called his followers to the streets on previous occasions. The demonstration was triggered by news of a second planned Koran burning in Sweden within weeks. Posts on a popular Telegram group linked to the cleric and other pro-Sadr media called for the protest.

Swedish police had granted permission for a public meeting outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, where two individuals were expected to participate in burning the Koran and the Iraqi flag. Earlier this year, Swedish police denied similar applications due to security concerns, but courts ruled in favor of allowing such acts, citing freedom of speech protections.

Videos posted on Telegram showed the protesters gathering around the Swedish embassy, chanting pro-Sadr slogans, and subsequently storming the embassy complex. By dawn, security forces were present inside the embassy, extinguishing the remaining embers as smoke rose from the building.

The Iraqi government also condemned the incident, vowing to conduct a swift investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable. Later on, Iraqi security forces attempted to disperse the few dozen remaining protesters outside the embassy.

This incident comes in the wake of a Koran burning in Stockholm by an Iraqi man, which led to major protests outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. Several Muslim countries, including Iraq, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Morocco, expressed their objections to the incident, with Iraq seeking the man’s extradition to face trial.

The United States condemned the Koran burning but acknowledged Sweden’s stance on freedom of expression, stating that issuing the permit did not constitute an endorsement of the action. Tensions surrounding the issue of burning the Koran continue to spark protests and diplomatic challenges between Sweden and Iraq.


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