Three new requests to burn religious books have been handed over to police in Sweden, as the ongoing dispute over the country’s free speech laws risks causing more anger among religious groups.
The requests come after the burning of a Quran late last month sparked mass outrage across the Muslim world and even sparked a UN meeting.
One of the three new applications would involve the burning of the Islamic holy text outside a mosque in Stockholm, as occurred with the June 28 burning.
The organizer, a woman in her 50s, has said in her application that she wants permission to hold the protest “as soon as possible.”
Another application concerns the burning of the Torah and the Bible in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm, with the organizer requesting June 15 as the date.
The 30-year-old man behind the request has written in his request that it is in response to last week’s burning of the Koran, calling it “a symbolic gathering for the sake of free speech.”
The third request to burn ‘religious texts’ on July 12 has been made in Helsingborg by someone the police called a ‘private’.
JUNE 28: Salwan Momika (pictured), an Iraqi immigrant, burns a Koran in front of the Swedish capital’s main mosque. The stunt sparked a diplomatic backlash and caused the Swedish embassy in Baghdad to be stormed by angry Iraqi protesters.
JANUARY 21: The leader of the far-right Danish political party Stram Kurs Rasmus Paludan burns a copy of the Koran during a protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
Activists from the religious right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party burn the Swedish flag during a demonstration in Multan July 3 in response to last week’s burning of the Koran.
News of the three requests came after the United Nations raised concerns about the burning of a Koran in front of the Swedish capital’s main mosque on June 28, sparking a diplomatic backlash and prompting the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. was stormed by angry Iraqi protesters.
The UN Human Rights Council will hold an urgent session to address the incident, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
Anger was also expressed by other Muslim-majority nations, including Turkey, which is currently holding up Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance.
Ankara warned on Tuesday that it would not be pressured to back Sweden’s offer to join NATO, which it put forward after Russia invaded Ukraine, and said it was still assessing whether Sweden’s entry would help or hurt the bloc.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and other nations called for a discussion on “the alarming increase in public and premeditated acts of religious hatred as manifested in the recurrent desecration of the Holy Quran in some European and other countries.”
The 50-year-old woman who submitted the request to burn a Koran in front of a mosque in Stockholm said protests around the world are unfair in Sweden, Swedish newscaster SVT Nyheter reported on Wednesday.
Salwan Momika, 37, who fled Iraq for Sweden several years ago, trampled on the Muslim holy book after placing bacon between its pages and set several pages on fire in Stockholm, all in front of angry counter-protesters.
His actions came as Muslims around the world began to commemorate the holiday of Eid al-Adha and as the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia was drawing to a close, making Momika’s stunt even more most controversial.
He said his protest was made in the name of free speech.
Swedish police had granted Momika a permit under free speech protections, but authorities later said they had opened an investigation for “agitation”.
It was not the first time a Quran had been burned in a public protest this year. In January, far-right Danish politician Stram Kurs Rasmus Paludan burned the religious book in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in the Netherlands said on Tuesday that a Dutch man will appear in court on charges of insults after tearing up a Quran in front of parliament and comparing Islam’s holy book to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
Edwin Wagensveld, 54, who heads the Dutch section of the German anti-Islam group Pegida, staged the protest in The Hague in January.
Prosecutors said in April that they had opened a criminal investigation into a 54-year-old Dutch citizen living in Germany over the incident.
People march with Palestinian flags during a demonstration in Yemen’s Huthi capital Sanaa on July 4, protesting against the burning of the Koran and raids in Israel.
People hold copies of the Quran as they attend a protest against the burning of a copy of the Quran in Sweden, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on July 4.
Such protests have sparked anger across the Muslim world, with protesters taking to the streets and burning Swedish flags.
In response, the UN Human Rights Council is scheduled to hold an urgent session.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council meets in three regular sessions a year. The UN’s main human rights body is currently in its second session, which will run until July 14.
The 47-member council will change its agenda to organize an urgent debate, following a request from Pakistan.
“Most likely, the urgent debate will be convened this week at a date and time determined by the Human Rights Council bureau which meets today,” council spokesman Pascal Sim told reporters.
Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan’s ambassador in Geneva, wrote to the council’s president on Monday on behalf of the 19 Organization of Islamic Cooperation members who are also on the council, as well as other OIC countries, requesting an urgent debate.
Hashmi said the “provocative acts” on June 28 had been widely condemned and strongly rejected around the world.
“These ongoing incidents demand immediate action by the Human Rights Council,” he said.
Although it recognizes the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the OIC group wants measures to be taken to prevent repetition and the development of legal deterrence measures.
The group also intends to submit a draft resolution for adoption by council members as a result of the discussion, and promised to circulate the draft text shortly.
Algeria, Malaysia, Qatar, Sudan, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates are among the 19 OIC countries on the 47-member Human Rights Council.
At an extraordinary meeting on Sunday at its Jeddah headquarters in Saudi Arabia, the OIC called for collective measures to prevent future Quran burnings.
The Swedish government on Sunday condemned last week’s burning of the Koran as “Islamophobic.”
But he added in a foreign ministry statement that Sweden had a “constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration.”
Countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco have summoned Swedish ambassadors in protest.
And on Tuesday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan warned that his country would not be pressured to allow Sweden to join NATO.
His comments came two days before he was to meet his Swedish counterpart in Brussels to discuss Stockholm’s bid to become the 32nd member of the US-led defense alliance.
NATO hopes to welcome Sweden back when alliance leaders hold a summit in Lithuania on July 11-12.
But Turkey and Hungary, another NATO member, are holding up ratification over a series of individual disputes with Stockholm and Brussels.
The unanimous approval of current members is required for new countries to join the most powerful defense organization in the world.
In addition to the Koran burning, Ankara has been enraged by a series of protests in Sweden by supporters of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged a 38-year insurgency against Turkey that has left tens of thousands dead. It is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.
“We never condone the use of time pressure as a method,” Fidan told a televised news conference.
Fidan cited the incident in Stockholm last week as an example of how Sweden failed to live up to the commitments it made when it obtained Turkey’s initial backing for its application in Madrid a year ago.
‘Swedish security system is not able to stop provocations. This is not bringing more strength but more problems to NATO,’ she said.
“In terms of strategy and security, when we’re discussing Sweden’s NATO membership, it’s about whether it will be a benefit or a burden.”
Hungary has indicated that it will follow Türkiye’s example in the dispute.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday that he had been holding regular consultations with Fidan on Sweden.
Pakistani shopkeepers shout slogans and hold banners reading “Death to Sweden” in Urdu as they attend a protest against the burning of a copy of the Koran in Sweden, in Peshawar on July 3.
“In the coming days, communication will also remain close and continuous with the Turkish foreign minister,” Szijjarto said.
“And if there is a change, we will of course keep our promise that Hungary will not lag any country behind in terms of membership.”
Sweden and neighboring Finland abandoned decades of military nonalignment and applied to join NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finland formally joined the bloc in April.