A recent incident at an authorized protest in Stockholm drew outrage from governments in several majority Muslim countries
Sweden’s justice minister has said his government may be open to amending a protest law, after the public burning of a Koran in Stockholm last month sparked fury across the Muslim world.
Gunnar Strömmer told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet the incident and others like it have helped make Sweden a target for jihadist violence.
“We have seen arrests in Sweden on suspicion of preparation for a terrorist attack,” he said. “There have been arrests in Germany on suspicion of preparation for a terrorist attack against Sweden in the light of this. We can also see that the burning of the Koran last week has generated threats to our internal security.
“It is clear that we must analyze the legal situation in the light of the spring events and those judgments. The analyzes are ongoing and we will come back with any conclusions.”
The incident in June saw an Iraqi national resident in Sweden tear and burn a copy of Islam’s holy book outside the capital’s largest mosque on the day of Eid al-Adha.
The international reaction to his actions was swift and furious. Morocco recalled its ambassador, and the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq unanimously condemned the incident.
In Baghdad, a crowd of protesters assembled at the Swedish embassy and even entered its compound before being dispersed by security forces.
While the authorities had given permission for Salwan Momika’s protest, police said afterwards they were investigating his stunt as a potential act of “agitation against an ethnic group”.
The diplomatic blowback from the incident is particularly serious when it comes to Turkey, whose government has strayed from secularism over the last decade.
Along with Hungary, Turkey has been blocking Sweden’s accession to NATO on the grounds that it is home to people it considers terrorists.
Earlier this week, the Turkish foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, said at a press conference the incident was part of a disturbing pattern.
“The fact that the Swedish security system is incapable of preventing provocations and is presenting an image of a (country) that brings problems to NATO instead of more power is making us think in terms of the strategic and security aspects,” he said.
However, he also said that Ankara would still approve Sweden’s membership when the Swedish government “completed its homework”.