Tension at its highest point in Iraq after an attempt was made to set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad before dawn during a demonstration organised by supporters of the religious leader Moqtada Al Sadr on the eve of a new event in Sweden where the organisers allegedly intended to burn a new copy of the Koran.
The Iraqi Prime Minister ordered the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador in Baghdad, shortly before a demonstration in Stockholm where a man had threatened to burn a copy of the Koran.
Mohamed Chia Al-Soudani has “asked the Swedish ambassador in Baghdad to leave Iraqi territory,” his office said in a statement. Adding that the Iraqi chargé d’affaires in Stockholm has been recalled. This decision follows the ‘repeated incidents of desecration of the holy Koran’, it was explained.
The EU intervenes on the case: ‘No to racism and intolerance’
The EU also intervenes on the case:
‘The Commission has always been clear that manifestations of racism, xenophobia and intolerance have no place in Europe. Such actions are not compatible with the values on which the EU is founded. We are aware that the Swedish authorities are taking an interest in this incident of Koran burning at a demonstration in Sweden that in no way reflects the positions of the EU,’
European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand told the daily press conference of the executive.
Licence suspended from telecoms giant Ericsson
Meanwhile, official sources report that Iraq is also suspending the licence of Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson. This, as a consequence of the escalating tension between the two countries.
‘The chairman of the media and telecommunications authority Ali Al-Mouayad has suspended the operating licence of the Swedish company Ericsson on Iraqi territory,’ Thus says a statement published by the state news agency Ina. Which justifies the decision by ‘the authorisation given by the Swedish state to burn the Koran and the Iraqi flag’.
The assault on the Swedish embassy
This morning an Afp correspondent saw smoke rising from the embassy building. In the area where Iraqi police were deployed in riot gear for the demonstration. He then used water cannons to try to disperse the crowd.
First the firm condemnation of the assault in the past hours on the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. Where about a hundred people set fire to it. Then, the threat to break off all diplomatic relations with Sweden if a new announced ‘Koran burning’ in Stockholm takes place.
In the early hours of the morning, hundreds of demonstrators stormed the embassy in protest against the burning of a Koran in Sweden. This was also reported by the international news agency, which quoted a witness. The source said that “no staff members were injured”. But declined to provide further details. Officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The protest in Baghdad was organised by supporters of religious leader Moqtada AlSadr. ‘We are mobilised today to denounce the burning of the Koran, which speaks of love and faith,’ protester Hassan Ahmed told Afp.
“We demand that the Swedish government and the Iraqi government stop this kind of initiative.” Some protesters held copies of the Koran. While others held portraits of Mohamed al-Sadr, a prominent cleric and father of Moqtada Al Sadr.
Swedish authorities approved another assembly to be held outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm. Where organisers announced plans to burn a copy of the Koran and an Iraqi flag. Swedish media reported that Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee in Sweden, organised the event.