The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is convening in Saudi Arabia to discuss measures following a Quran-burning incident in Sweden that has incited global protests.
The demonstration involved Salwan Momika, an Iraqi living in Sweden, burning pages of the Quran outside a Stockholm mosque during Eid al-Adha. Despite the outrage, Swedish authorities, citing freedom of speech protections, granted Momika a permit.
The incident has provoked demonstrations in Iraq and Iran and triggered diplomatic fallouts, with Jordan and Morocco recalling their ambassadors from Stockholm. Despite expressing regret over the incident, the Swedish government has upheld the principle of freedom of speech.
Swedish police are investigating Momika for two hate crimes and violating a fire ban. There has been a request from Iraq for his extradition.
Meanwhile, Turkey, a NATO member, has been hesitant in ratifying Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, further straining relations. The Turkish Foreign Minister condemned the Swedish court’s decision to allow the protest, while the Swedish PM defended it as a legal expression of free speech, despite its inappropriateness.
The U.S. State Department also echoed this sentiment, expressing deep concern over the act but stating it supports freedom of expression. As diplomatic tensions rise, the potential impact on Sweden’s NATO entry talks remains unclear, adding another level of complexity to the ongoing situation.
Washington is urging Ankara to approve Sweden’s NATO membership prior to the annual summit on July 11-12 in Lithuania. A meeting between Turkish, Swedish, and NATO officials is set for next Thursday, as part of ongoing discussions to persuade Turkey to abandon its reservations.