After a demonstration against the burning of “the Quran,” the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was set on fire.
In Baghdad, protesters set fire to the Swedish embassy in response to a planned burning of the Koran in Sweden. The Swedish authorities had approved an assembly outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, where protesters intended to burn a copy of the Koran and an Iraqi flag.
The events in Sweden have caused anger among Iraqis, leading to the protest in Baghdad organised by supporters of the influential religious leader Moqtada Sadr. While security personnel equipped with electric batons pursued the protesters, Iraqi riot police deployed water cannons to scatter the crowd close to the embassy.
Some protesters held up copies of the Koran, while others hoisted photos of Moqtada Sadr’s father, Mohamed al-Sadr, a revered religious figure.
The safety of the embassy workers in Baghdad following the event was certified by the Swedish foreign ministry. At the embassy, where clashes between Iraqi security personnel and protesters had started, several trucks had come to put out the fire. Whether the embassy was empty at the time of the attack or if staff had fled remained a mystery.
The burning of the embassy was denounced by the Iraqi foreign ministry, which also urged security authorities to find the perpetrators of the crime.
Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee living in Sweden, is said to have coordinated the gathering in Stockholm, according to Swedish media reports. On June 28, during the Muslim holiday known as “Eid al-Adha,” he torched a few pages of the Koran in front of Stockholm’s biggest mosque. The following day, as a result of this incident, Moqtada Sadr’s supporters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. Moqtada Sadr is an important religious figure and political dissident in Iraq.
Numerous times, Moqtada has enlisted thousands of protesters to take to the streets. During a political dispute over the choice of a prime minister in the summer of 2022, his supporters broke into Baghdad’s parliament building and launched a sit-in that lasted several weeks.
As emotions run high over the religious and political issues at stake in both countries, the scenario has increased tensions and worries of more upheaval.