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Hard Line Party Head Paludan Pledges to Burn Qurans 'Every Friday' Until Sweden Is Admitted to NATO

CC0 / / Quran
Quran - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.01.2023
Apart from putting Sweden’s NATO bid on ice amid harsh rhetoric from Turkey, the inflammatory action involving Islam's most revered text has sparked a strong backlash from the Muslim world at large, leading to calls to boycott Swedish goods.
Danish right-wing Hard Line party leader and habitual Quran-burner Rasmus Paludan has promised Ankara to burn copies of Islam's sacred book in front of the Turkish embassy "every Friday" until Sweden is granted permission to access NATO.
Earlier, Ankara interrupted NATO tripartite negotiations with Sweden and Finland; it decried them as as "meaningless," citing Paludan’s protest in Stockholm, during which a copy of the Quran was burned, leaving the nations’ NATO bids hanging in the air.
Paludan, whose fringe party runs on an anti-Islam agenda and a promise to ban all non-Western immigration, reiterated the framing of his actions as an exercise in freedom of speech. In recent years, Paludan has made burning and otherwise defacing copies of the Quran an integral part of his political repetoir.
"I will proclaim that this is Erdogan's fault. Now that he doesn't want to let Sweden into NATO, I have to teach him about freedom of speech until he does. As I see it, Erdogan is a liar. When he says it's someone else's fault, he doesn't know how causality works," Paludan told Swedish media.
Admittedly, he intends to burn three Qurans this Friday in Copenhagen — one outside of the Turkish embassy, one near a mosque and one near the Russian embassy. Unlike in Sweden, Paludan doesn’t need a permit in Denmark, but must notify the authorities 24 hours before carrying out an action.
Paludan also promised to "never in his entire life to burn a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy again" once Sweden is accepted into NATO.

Sweden’s NATO Bid Gets Delayed Amid Internal Strife

In recent weeks, Sweden's already fraught NATO talks were complicated further by high-profile provocations, including one where an effigy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan was hanged in Stockholm and a cartoon contest was held by a Swedish newspaper to mock the Turkish leader.
Amid a strong backlash in Turkey and the Muslim world at large, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson tried to mend fences and condemned the Quran-burning, while offering his "sympathy" to all offended Muslims. He also emphasized the importance of the quickest possible NATO accession and called for a dialog with Turkey.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his party members, in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.01.2023
Swedish Newspaper Launches Cartoon Contest to Mock Erdogan as NATO Bid Lingers
The government's previous readiness to go to considerable lengths to accommodate Turkish demands, including greenlighting arms exports and extraditing people on Ankara’s wishlist, has angered the left-wing opposition and human rights groups. However, its handling of the "Qurangate" sparked outrage among its own allies, the Sweden Democrats, which, as the country’s second-largest party, provide key support to the embattled minority government.
First, Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson lambasted Turkish leader as an "Islamist dictator" and cautioned the government against going too far in trying to please him — a nod to the very same Prime Minister Kristersson previously calling some of Erdogan’s demands impossible. Subsequently, Richard Jomshof, the chairman of the parliamentary justice committee and Akesson’s party mate, ventured that the prime minister’s apology was a bridge too far and that more vigorous action to defend free speech was needed.
"I don't think you should do it, but you can do it and they get upset, so torch a hundred more [Qurans] then," Jomshof told Swedish media.
At the same time, he emphasized that the national-conservative Sweden Democrats had nothing to do with the Quran burning in Stockholm, even though a journalist with connections to the party paid for Paludan's permit for the demonstration.
Incidentally, a similar approach was voiced by Sweden Democrats’ archrivals, the Greens. Their spokeswoman Marta Stenevi fully supported Paludan’s right to incendiary action and urged the government to stand up for the freedom of speech.
However, the consequences of the Quran-burning may reach even farther than Sweden’s stalled NATO bid. Al-Azhar University in Cairo, renowned as the highest institution of learning for Sunni Muslims, called for a global boycott of Swedish goods, sparking concerns of potential economic harm to Swedish companies.
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