Protesters climb a fence near the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on July 20, 2023.
Hundreds of protesters stormed the main gates of the Swedish embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad early Thursday in response to police in Stockholm granting permission for a demonstration were organizers are reportedly planning another burning of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.
Videos posted on social media showed a large number of protesters inside the Swedish embassy’s perimeter as well as black smoke and fire coming from the building.
The protest in Sweden, scheduled for Thursday, comes just weeks after a lone man set fire to pages of the Quran outside Stockholm’s main mosque, leading to widespread outrage and condemnation around the world, including in Iraq.
According to AFP, Swedish police said Wednesday they had granted a permit for a protest outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, with media reporting the organizers planned to burn the Muslim holy book.
Stockholm police told AFP they had granted a permit for a “public gathering” outside the Iraqi embassy but did not wish to give further comments on what the protesters were planning.
Obtained by CNN
A large number of protesters breached the Swedish embassy in Baghdad early Thursday.
The Swedish police have stressed that they only grant permits for people to hold public gatherings and not for the activities conducted during them, according to AFP.
At the Baghdad protest eyewitnesses told CNN that the protesters withdrew from the perimeter of the Swedish Embassy after setting part of it on fire “after delivering their message of protest against the act of burning the Holy Book of God.”
The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the burning of Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad, the ministry said in statement.
The incident is part of a concerning pattern of assaults on diplomatic missions, posing a significant security threat, the ministry said.
It added that the Iraqi government has taken swift action, instructing competent security authorities to launch an urgent investigation, “measures in order to uncover the circumstances of the incident and identify the perpetrators of this act and hold them accountable according to the law.”
At the end of June, a man burned a copy of Islam’s holy book outside a Stockholm Mosque sparking mass condemnations across the Muslim world.
Images of the event showed he was the only person apart from his translator at the demonstration, which coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, one of the most significant dates in the Islamic calendar.