Saturday, February 4, 2023

Anti-Turkey protests in Sweden heighten tensions over NATO bid

Issued on: 21/01/2023 – 22:56

Protests in Stockholm on Saturday in opposition to Turkey and Sweden’s bid to hitch NATO, together with the burning of a replica of the Koran, sharply heightened tensions with Turkey at a time when the Nordic nation wants Ankara’s backing to realize entry to the army alliance. 

“We condemn in the strongest potential phrases the vile assault on our holy ebook … Allowing this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, below the guise of freedom of expression is totally unacceptable,” the Turkish Overseas Ministry mentioned.

Its assertion was issued after an anti-immigrant politician from the far-right fringe burned a replica of the Koran close to the Turkish Embassy. The Turkish ministry urged Sweden to take needed actions in opposition to the perpetrators and invited all nations to take concrete steps in opposition to Islamophobia.

A separate protest came about in town supporting Kurds and in opposition to Sweden’s bid to hitch NATO. A gaggle of pro-Turkish demonstrators additionally held a rally exterior the embassy. All three occasions had police permits.

Swedish Overseas Minister Tobias Billstrom mentioned that Islamophobic provocations had been appalling.

“Sweden has a far-reaching freedom of expression, nevertheless it doesn’t indicate that the Swedish Authorities, or myself, assist the opinions expressed,” Billstrom mentioned on Twitter.

Protesters burn the nationwide flag of Sweden as they reveal in entrance of the Consulate Basic of Sweden after Rasmus Paludan, chief of the Danish far-right political social gathering Onerous Line and who additionally has Swedish citizenship, burned a replica of the Koran close to the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 21, 2023. © Umit Bektas, Reuters

The Koran-burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, chief of Danish far-right political social gathering Onerous Line. Paludan, who additionally has Swedish citizenship, has held a variety of demonstrations in the previous the place he has burned the Koran.

Paludan couldn’t instantly be reached by e mail for a remark. Within the allow he obtained from police, it says his protest was held in opposition to Islam and what it referred to as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan‘s try and affect freedom of expression in Sweden.

A number of Arab nations together with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait denounced the Koran-burning. “Saudi Arabia requires spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance, and coexistence, and rejects hatred and extremism,” the Saudi Overseas Ministry mentioned in a press release.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to hitch NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine however all 30 member states should approve their bids. Turkey has mentioned Sweden in specific should first take a clearer stance in opposition to what it sees as terrorists, primarily Kurdish militants and a gaggle it blames for a 2016 coup try.

On the demonstration to protest Sweden’s NATO bid and to point out assist for Kurds, audio system stood in entrance of a giant purple banner studying “We’re all PKK”, referring to the Kurdistan Staff Get together that’s outlawed in Turkey, Sweden, and the USA amongst different nations, and addressed a number of hundred pro-Kurdish and left-wing supporters.

“We are going to proceed our opposition to the Swedish NATO software,” Thomas Pettersson, spokesperson for Alliance In opposition to NATO and certainly one of organizers of the demonstration, instructed Reuters.

Police mentioned the state of affairs was calm in any respect three demonstrations.

In Istanbul, individuals in a gaggle of round 200 protesters set fireplace to a Swedish flag in entrance of the Swedish consulate in response to the burning of the Koran.

Swedish minister’s go to cancelled

Earlier on Saturday, Turkey mentioned that attributable to lack of measures to limit protests, it had cancelled a planned visit to Ankara by the Swedish defence minister.

Jonson mentioned individually that he and Akar had met on Friday throughout a gathering of Western allies in Germany and had determined to postpone the deliberate assembly.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar mentioned he had mentioned with Erdogan the dearth of measures to limit protests in Sweden in opposition to Turkey and had conveyed Ankara’s response to Jonson on the sidelines of a gathering of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group.

“It’s unacceptable to not make a transfer or react to those (protests). The required issues wanted to be executed, measures ought to have been taken,” Akar mentioned, in line with a press release by Turkish Defence Ministry.

Turkey’s Overseas Ministry had already summoned Sweden’s ambassador on Friday over the deliberate protests.

Finland and Sweden signed a three-way settlement with Turkey in 2022 aimed toward overcoming Ankara’s objections to their membership of NATO. Sweden says it has fulfilled its a part of the memorandum however Turkey is demanding extra, together with the extradition of 130 individuals it deems to be terrorists.


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