Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, SwedeniStock

Swedish authorities have approved a second demonstration involving the burning of a Quran, weeks after a similar desecration of the Muslim holy book sparked an uproar and calls to burn a Torah in response.

Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old man who fled Iraq to Sweden several years ago, stated that he had gotten a permit to go through with a second Quran burning. He also plans to burn an Iraqi flag outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm.

Momika staged his first protest last month when he stood outside Stockholm’s central mosque following Eid al-Adha services with a Quran, He tore the book, wiped his shoes on the pages, and put bacon on them before proceeding to burn the Quran, all acts considered deeply insulting in Islamic culture.

The Quran burning was widely condemned, including by Jewish organizations and the Israeli government. Despite this, as well as no involvement in the Quran burning by Israel, a Muslim activist applied for and received a permit to burn a Torah outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. This act was also widely condemned, and the activist later backed down and did not go through with the book burning.

Hundreds of rioters protesting the Quran burning stormed the Swedish embassy in Iraq this morning (Thursday) and set the building on fire.

Jewish groups again condemned the planned Quran burning. European Jewish Association Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, sent a letter to the King of Sweden, the Prime Minister, the Chief of Police, and religious leaders in which he stated: “A constitution should be designed to protect all citizens; it is now clear that these burnings are simply an abuse of the privileges flowing from the constitution by those with a deeply negative and divisive agenda.

"It is absurd to approve a request for a demonstration when the organizers clearly state in advance that they will burn a Quran. It is clear that those bent on stoking division are exploiting the constitution for their own ends. This is a loophole that needs to be closed. It is self-evident that the right to freedom and protest is a fundamental right, but it must end exactly at the point where it infringes on another’s fundamental rights - especially as fundamental as their very faith and traditions.

"We utterly condemn any violence or vandalism against Swedish persons and buildings that may flow in response to burnings. This is never the way, no matter how offended one may feel. Instead, we must work together to amend the constitution, and close loopholes that are allowing those who seek confrontation and division to flourish in Sweden," Rabbi Margolin's letter concluded.

The Swedish government has stated that it is working to change the laws that allow the burning of holy books. However, such a change will take time and will not result in the cancellation of the latest Quran burning.