Protesters Stormed and Set Fire to the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad

World | July 20, 2023, Thursday // 10:02
Bulgaria: Protesters Stormed and Set Fire to the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad

Hundreds of protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in central Baghdad in the early hours of Thursday and set it on fire to protest an expected Quran burning in Sweden, Reuters reported.

All embassy staff in Baghdad are safe, the Swedish Foreign Ministry press office said in a statement, condemning the attack and stressing the need for Iraqi authorities to protect diplomatic missions.

Thursday's demonstration was organized by supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr to protest a planned burning of a copy of the Quran in Sweden, according to posts in a popular Telegram group linked to the influential cleric.

Swedish news agency TT reported on Wednesday that Swedish police granted a request for a public gathering outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday.

The application said the applicant wanted to burn the Quran and the Iraqi flag, TT reported.

A series of videos posted to the Telegram group showed people gathering around the Swedish embassy around 1 a.m. Thursday, chanting slogans in support of Sadr and storming the embassy compound about an hour later.

"Yes, yes to the Quran," chanted the protesters.

Videos later showed smoke rising from a building in the embassy compound and protesters standing on the roof.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also condemned the incident and said in a statement that the Iraqi government had instructed security forces to quickly investigate, identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Security forces were deployed to the embassy early on Thursday and smoke was billowing from the building as firefighters continued to put out the fire, according to Reuters witnesses.

Most of the protesters had withdrawn and several dozen gathered outside the embassy.

Late last month, Sadr called for protests against Sweden and the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador after the burning of the Quran in Stockholm by an Iraqi.

Swedish police charged the man with incitement against an ethnic or national group. In a newspaper interview, he described himself as an Iraqi refugee who wanted to ban the Quran.

Two large protests took place outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad following the burning of the Quran, with one protester storming the embassy grounds.

The governments of several Muslim countries, including Iraq, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco, have protested the incident, with Iraq demanding the extradition of the man to face trial in the country.

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