Sadr supporters torch Swedish embassy in response to anticipated Quran burning; embassy closed

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr staged protests outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on the early hours of Thursday, setting the embassy building on fire, but embassy staff were confirmed to be safe.

In response to the escalating violence, the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad announced the closure of its services until further notice.

The protests were triggered by Salwan Momika’s recent claim that he would burn a copy of the Quran in Sweden once again. Momika, an Iraqi refugee residing in Stockholm, had previously burned a copy of the Quran on the first day of Eid al-Adha last month, after obtaining permission from the Swedish police.

In a video shared on social media on Wednesday, he claimed to have received police permission once more to burn both the Quran and the Iraqi flag simultaneously.

In reaction to Momika’s provocative actions, supporters of Sadr gathered at the Swedish embassy, raising their leader’s flag, chanting slogans, and breaking the gate before setting the building on fire.

The incident drew condemnation from the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which strongly denounced the act of burning the embassy, considering it an assault on diplomatic missions and a threat to their security.

In a statement, the ministry said that the Iraqi government has ordered an urgent investigation to uncover the circumstances of the incident and identify the perpetrators, promising to hold them accountable according to the law.

Notably, this is not the first time that Sadr supporters have targeted the Swedish embassy. Just days after the Quran burning incident by Momika last month, Sadr’s followers demonstrated at the embassy, breaking down the gate.

The burning of the Quran by the Iraqi refugee on June 28 has elicited widespread domestic and international reactions. Iraq officially requested Sweden to extradite Salwan Momika to face trial under Iraqi law. The act has also garnered condemnation from countries in the Islamic world and various world leaders.

In response to the incident, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) submitted a resolution against religious hatred to the UN Human Rights Council, which was successfully passed by a majority vote.

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