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20 Jul, 2023 01:43

NATO applicant’s embassy torched over Koran-burning stunt

The incident marks the second chaotic demonstration at the compound in recent weeks
NATO applicant’s embassy torched over Koran-burning stunt

A large crowd of rioters stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq and set the building ablaze, in the early hours of Thursday morning. The angry demonstration in Iraq is seen as a response to the latest in a string of protests planned for Stockholm, sanctioned by Swedish police, during which an activist is expected to burn the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Hundreds of people flocked to the diplomatic mission in the early hours of Thursday, after influential Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his supporters to demonstrate, according to Reuters.

Footage from the scene has circulated online, with one clip purporting to show the moment rioters stormed the embassy. 

Fire and smoke could be seen in other videos, with black plumes billowing from the embassy’s windows as protesters chanted slogans.

A source cited by Reuters said that no embassy staff were harmed during the protest, but offered no other details.

The demonstration was reportedly prompted by the Swedish government’s approval for an upcoming Koran-burning performance in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm on Thursday.

A similar stunt was carried out last month at the same location, triggering a heated protest in Baghdad which also saw an angry crowd storm the Swedish Embassy.

The governments of multiple Muslim countries also lodged formal protests over the previous Koran-burning, including Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco and Türkiye. Al-Sadr, meanwhile, called for the expulsion of Sweden’s ambassador to Iraq, saying he represented a nation “hostile to Islam.”

Russia and the United States have also condemned the stunt in Stockholm, though Washington maintained that allowing it to take place was in line with the Swedes’ rights to free expression.