Azerbaijan condemns Koran burning in Stockholm, calls for justice to be served
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the act of desecration of a copy of Koran at a rally in Stockholm outside the Turkish embassy.
"We strongly condemn the despicable act of desecrating the #HolyQuran in front of the @TC Stockholm. Islamophobic acts as an outright #hatecrime are not an expression of freedom of speech. We call on the #Swedish government to bring perpetrators of this hate crime to justice soon," the ministry said in a tweet.
On January 21, the Stockholm authorities sanctioned a protest rally outside the Turkish embassy, during which a copy of the Koran was defiantly burnt. Ankara condemned the action and called it an "open violation" of the memorandum on joining NATO. Against this background, Turkey canceled the visit of the Swedish defense minister. Stockholm, in turn, said that it does not support Islamophobia, but there is "broad freedom of opinion" in the country.
The Swedish prime minister noted that “freedom of speech is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. The burning of a book sacred to many is an act of deep disrespect. I want to express my sympathy to all Muslims who are offended by what happened today in Stockholm.”
The Koran-burning has exacerbated tensions with Turkey over the NATO bid and Ankara canceled a planned meeting of the defense ministers from the two countries.
During the protests on Saturday in Stockholm, an anti-immigrant politician from the far-right fringe burned a copy of the Koran near the Turkish embassy. Ankara, Baku and many Muslim nations denounced the move as “vile” and urged the government to bring perpetrators of this hate crime to justice immediately.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book,” the Foreign Ministry of Turkiye said in a statement.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the talks with his Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson were called off as they had “lost significance and meaning”.
Jonson tweeted on Saturday that he had met with Akar on Friday in Germany, where they “decided to postpone the planned meeting in Ankara until later”.
“Relations with Turkey are very important for Sweden and we look forward to continuing the dialogue on common security and defense issues at a later date,” Jonson wrote.
The Koran-burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, media reports say.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström described the Koran-burning “appalling” in a tweet on Saturday. “Islamophobic provocations are appalling. Sweden has far-reaching freedom of expression, but it does not imply that the Swedish government, or myself, support the opinions expressed,” he said.
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