Iraq: Protesters storm, burn Swedish embassy over planned Quran burning

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters stormed and set fire to Sweden’s embassy compound in Baghdad early Thursday, over an expected burning of the Holy Quran planned for later in the day in Stockholm.

Protesters scaled walls at the embassy and set fires inside the compound. Iraqi riot police used electric batons and water cannons to disperse demonstrators.

The expected Quran burning in Sweden was to take place Thursday at an event approved by Swedish authorities on the grounds of free speech.

This comes after the June 28 incident which saw Sweden-based Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika burn pages of the Holy Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm. The action was met by a wave of anger across the Muslim world.

Momika meanwhile confirmed on Facebook that he was one of the organizers of Thursday’s event, which was scheduled to take place outside the Iraqi embassy. Plans had also been made to burn the Iraqi flag.

The protesters in Iraq were followers of powerful Shiite Muslim cleric and political leader Moqtada Sadr.

Sweden’s foreign ministry earlier told AFP by email that all of its employees in Baghdad were safe and that the ministry was in contact with them.

However, the ministry stated that the Iraqi authorities are responsible for the protection of diplomatic missions and their staff and said their inability to prevent such an attack was “a serious violation of the Vienna Convention”.