Swedish Government Permits Quran-Burning Protest, Angering Turkey

The protest makes it less likely that Turkey will approve Sweden's NATO membership before the Vilnius summit in July

The Swedish government permitted a Quran-burning protest that took place in Sweden on Wednesday, a move that angered Turkey and made it less likely that Ankara will approve Stockholm’s NATO membership before the Vilnius summit in July.

Swedish police said the approval was done in accordance with the right of free speech. Only one man took part in the demonstration, burning a Quran near a mosque in Stockholm.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan condemned the protest. “It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression. To turn a blind eye to such heinous acts is to be complicit in them,” he said.

Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s director of communications, said that those “who seek to become our allies in NATO, cannot tolerate or enable destructive behaviors of Islamophobic and xenophobic terrorists.”

Earlier this year, Turkey postponed talks with Sweden over its NATO bid over a Quran-burning protest that was held in January.

US and NATO officials have said they expect Sweden will be granted membership by July 11, when the Vilnius summit will begin. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said it won’t happen, and the Quran-burning protest gives Ankara more reason not to meet the deadline.

Turkey’s main gripe with Sweden is the country’s alleged support for the PKK, a Kurdish militant group Ankara considers a terrorist organization. In an effort to placate Turkey, Stockholm has passed a new anti-terror law and approved the extradition of a man who previously expressed support for the PKK.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.