Iraq condemns burning of Quran in front of its Copenhagen embassy

Iraqis raise copies of the Quran during a protest in Baghdad (AP)
Iraqis raise copies of the Quran during a protest in Baghdad (AP)

Iraq and other Muslim-majority countries have condemned the burning of a copy of the Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Denmark.

Demonstrations have raged across Iran and Iraq after Denmark and Sweden allowed the burning of the Quran under rules protecting free speech. Protesters in Iraq set the Swedish embassy in Baghdad alight last Thursday.

Two anti-Islam protesters set fire to a copy of Islam’s holy book in front of the Iraqi embassy in the Danish capital on Monday.

The two protesters were from a group that calls itself “Danish Patriots”, which held a similar demonstration last week and live-streamed the events on Facebook.

Iraq’s foreign ministry called on authorities of EU countries to “quickly reconsider so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate”.

Protesters gathered in Baghdad on Saturday amid heavy security, in a gathering called by ruling Iraqi parties and armed groups, many close to Iran.

Bridges leading to the Green Zone that houses many foreign embassies were shut after an attempt by demonstrators to get to the Danish embassy.

Last week Iraq expelled the Swedish ambassador and halted business with Sweden after a protester was allowed to desecrate a copy of the Quran in Stockholm for the second time in three weeks.

An Iraqi asylum seeker carrying the Swedish flag dropped a copy of the holy text on the ground outside his native country’s embassy and stamped on it while police stood by.

Iran’s foreign ministry last week summoned the Swedish ambassador in Tehran to “strongly protest against the desecration”, while Qatar took similar action. Turkey said events in Stockholm were a “despicable attack”.

Turkey also strongly condemned the "despicable attack" in Copenhagen, and called on Denmark to take necessary measures to prevent this "hate crime" against Islam, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

Saudi Arabia also summoned the Swedish chargé d’affaires in Riyadh and handed him a note of protest.

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, called on Islamic nations to follow Iraq in expelling Swedish ambassadors and withdrawing their envoys.

The Iraqi government announced retaliatory measures against Sweden, saying it would recall its diplomatic staff on the orders of Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani, the prime minister. It said it would sever diplomatic relations if Sweden permitted another burning.