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Egypt summons Swedish envoy over Koran protests

By AFP - Jul 25,2023 - Last updated at Jul 25,2023

CAIRO — The Egyptian foreign ministry has summoned Sweden’s envoy over protests in Stockholm that desecrated the Koran, Cairo said on Tuesday, adding to a wave of diplomatic condemnations across the Muslim world.

The charge d’affaires at the Swedish embassy in Cairo was informed “of the Egyptian government and people’s complete rejection of the unfortunate, repeated incidents of copies of the holy Koran being burnt or desecrated in Sweden”, a foreign ministry statement said.

Egypt has publicly condemned recent incidents in the Swedish capital where copies of the Muslim holy text were burnt or stamped on, warning of “escalating Islamophobia and hate crimes”.

Last month, Sweden-based Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika burnt pages of the Koran outside Stockholm’s main mosque.

And last week, he stepped on the Koran but did not burn it in a protest near the Iraqi embassy.

Both acts have triggered widespread condemnation across the Muslim world and beyond.

Swedish authorities had allowed the demonstrations on free-speech grounds but said their permission did not signal any approval of the action.

In an interview published last week, Momika — who describes himself as an atheist — defended his actions and said they were meant to highlight discrimination against minority groups in Iraq.

“I will keep burning Korans as long as I am legally allowed to,” he told French magazine Marianne.

Al Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s most prestigious educational institution, has called for boycotting Swedish products.

In its latest statement Friday, Al Azhar condemned “repeated provocations” by Swedish authorities, charging that Stockholm had granted permission for the protests “under the false slogan of freedom of expression” while supporting extremism and Islamophobia.

The events have raised diplomatic tensions throughout the region, with Swedish envoys also summoned in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Sweden’s ambassador has been expelled from Iraq, while Iran said it would not allow a new Swedish ambassador into the country, after repeated protests at embassies in both Baghdad and Tehran.

 

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