Sweden to tighten borders amid Quran protests

:: Desk Report | Public Reaction
প্রকাশ: ১১ মাস আগে
Enraged Muslims stormed and set fire to the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, in late July in protest to Quran desecrationsI Photo: Deutsche Welle

PM Ulf Kristersson has announced plans to expand police authority at the country’s borders amid an elevated risk of attack as the result of repeated anti-Islam provocations in the Scandinavian country.
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday announced that Sweden will introduce a new law, expected to be approved Thursday, that will give police expanded powers to conduct identity checks as well as vehicle and body searches at Sweden’s borders.
Electronic border surveillance is also to be expanded.
The measure, said Kristersson, is intended to prevent, “people with very weak connections to Sweden” from entering the country, “to commit crimes or to act in conflict with Swedish security interests.”
Sweden and neighboring Denmark have come into global focus in the wake of numerous anti-Islam “protests” in which a small number of individuals have desecrated the Muslim holy Quran, inciting widespread rage across the Muslim world.
Swedish security experts fear the continued provocations could trigger serious threats, “from individuals within the violent Islamist milieu.” For that reason, said Kristersson, it is “extremely important” to stop those individuals perceived as threats from entering the country.

Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer, who appeared alongside Kristersson at a Stockholm press conference, said, “Border controls are a measure that gives us the conditions to identify people coming into Sweden who could represent a threat to security.”

Stockholm seeks balance between free speech and respect for religious liberty

Both the Swedish and Danish governments have been at pains to strike a balance between protecting free speech and respecting the rights of religious communities. Kristersson has repeatedly called for de-escalation and the responsible and respectful exercise of free speech.

Muslim countries have called for Quran burnings and similar desecrations carried out by provocateurs to be forbidden. Though Stockholm initially bristled at the idea, citing democratic liberalism, it has now begun to look into ways to curtail such protests as threats to its national security grow.

Kristersson on Tuesday said sweeping changes to freedom of speech laws were, however, not in the cards. Still, he noted that, “Everything that is legal is not appropriate, it can be legal but still awful.”

On Monday, a day which saw yet another Quran desecration in Stockholm, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convened a special online meeting to discuss the situation and advised all 57 member states to dial back relations with countries that allow such actions, urging them to recall ambassadors, for instance. It also urged action from the United Nations on the issue.

The suggestion echoed moves taken by Iraq in late July, when Baghdad expelled Sweden’s ambassador in the country and its embassy was attacked and set ablaze by angry Muslims.

As an example of the type of threats potentially facing the country, a Turkish woman employed as a secretary at the Sweden’s diplomatic mission in western Turkey’s Izmir province was seriously injured Tuesday when a gun-wielding man attacked her outside the Swedish honorary consulate there.

Turkish authorities detained the man, whom the local governor’s office described as “mentally disabled,” but the woman remains hospitalized in critical condition.

“Sweden’s general consul will travel to Izmir tomorrow to be informed of the situation and express her condolences,” said Sweden’s Foreign Ministry, adding it would, “not comment on threat scenarios against the foreign mission or which security measures are being taken, as that could counter the purpose of the measures.”

Sweden in a ‘complicated’ and ‘dangerous’ situation

At Tuesday’s press conference, Prime Minister Kristersson said Sweden currently faces its most difficult security situation since World War II. Calling it “dangerous” and “complicated,” he mused that, “people who want to harm Sweden” might be trying to exploit the situation to their advantage.

He suggested one such actor might be Russia, which has voiced anger over Sweden’s attempts to join the NATO military alliance in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“It may be to prevent a Swedish NATO accession,” said Kristersson.

Indeed, Turkey, which only just recently relented its monthslong opposition to Swedish NATO membership, has now once again suggested it may block accession if Stockholm fails to crackdown on further Quran desecrations.

In a developing situation in Turkey’s western Izmir province, a Turkish woman was seriously wounded Tuesday when an armed man attacked the Swedish honorary consulate where she is employed.