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Swedish FM voices regret over Quran attack in Stockholm

The Quran (Photo: IANS)

The Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom has expressed regret over the recent attack on the Quran in Stockholm, the media reported.

During a phone call with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib, Billstrom on Sunday expressed Sweden’s regret over the desecration of the Quran and its insult to Islamic beliefs and symbols.

Bou Habib welcomed the position and encouraged Sweden to take additional “practical” steps to reduce feelings of growing hatred and Islamophobia, Xinhua news agency reported.

On Thursday, an Iraqi refugee, who burned a copy of the Quran last month, stomped on the holy book during a demonstration in the Swedish capital.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has condemned the burning of a copy of the Muslim holy book Quran and the Iraqi flag by members of an extremist group in Denmark.

“The actions fuel reactions and put all parties in critical positions,” the Ministry said on Saturday in a statement, adding it would follow up on the developments of these “heinous incidents”.

The Ministry called on the international community “to stand up urgently and responsibly against these atrocities that threaten social peace and co-existence around the world”.

In the early hours of Saturday, dozens of angry demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad to protest against the burning of the Quran and the Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen on Friday, a source from the Interior Ministry told Xinhua news agency.

The demonstrators tried to cross the nearby al-Jumhouriyah bridge to reach the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses some of the main government headquarters and some foreign embassies. But the riot police fired tear gas to prevent them from crossing the bridge, the source said.

He added that the security forces tightened measures and blocked the bridge and other main roads leading to the zone to keep the demonstrators in Tahrir Square away from the embassies and government institutions, Xinhua news agency reported.

Later, the Ministry issued another statement reassuring diplomatic missions of their security, saying “the Iraqi government is fully committed to the Vienna Convention that regulates diplomatic relations among countries and assures all resident diplomatic missions of their security and protection”.

“What happened to the embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Baghdad cannot be repeated, and any similar act will be subject to legal accountability,” the statement added.

The Ministry statement came after hundreds of angry protestors on Thursday stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad and set fire to the building in protest against the burning of the Quran and the Iraqi flag in Stockholm. Iraq also expelled the Swedish ambassador and recalled its charge d’affaires from Sweden.

On June 30, angry protestors stormed the Swedish embassy just outside the heavily-fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, protesting the act of a Swedish citizen of Iraqi origin, who tore up a copy of the Quran and burned it in front of a mosque in Stockholm on June 28 during a demonstration authorised by the Swedish authorities, which sparked fury from Muslims around the world.