- Sputnik International, 1920
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Swedish Police Admit to Restricting Free Speech, Say No to Quran-Burnings

 Quran  - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.02.2023
In addition to terrorism warnings from the Swedish Security Police, the country's NATO bid is at stake, as Turkiye, the only alliance member to openly oppose it, warned Stockholm that its ambitions won't be granted as long as Qurans are allowed to be burned freely.
The Swedish police have refused permission for a Quran-burning for a second time in a week, this time outside the Iraqi embassy. The decision was motivated by considerations that it could increase the terrorist threat against the Nordic country.
Last week, Sweden denied activists permission to burn a copy of Islam's holy book outside of Turkiye's embassy, as the Nordic country's Security Police called the stepped-up Quran-burnings a threat to Swedish society and Swedish interests amid an extensive Muslim backlash, as Swedish flags had been torched in several places across the globe in response.
While in both cases the Swedish Police Authority said there was nothing to indicate that serious disturbances could occur during the protest itself and that the threat was "abstract," it said it was not fully possible to ensure safety.
The police went on to say than a ban on Quran-burning during public gatherings will become a rule, despite the repercussions such a decision for freedom of speech.
"We are aware that it is a restriction on freedom of expression," police spokesman Ola Osterling told Swedish media.
The man who applied for the recent Quran-burning outside of the Iraqi embassy, himself of Iraqi origin, pledged to appeal the decision, which the police welcomed in order to test whether their reasoning was "fully legal."
"I want to show everyone how dangerous the Quran is. I am convinced that the law is above all religious laws and groups, and that it applies to all equally," the would-be Quran-burner told Swedish media.
Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2023
Finland Ready to Join NATO Without Sweden, Sources Claim
Over the past two weeks, Sweden encountered a series of hack attacks and disruptions targeting organizations ranging from the national broadcaster SVT to universities (including the Karolinska Institute and the Lulea University of Technology), hospitals and regional administration offices. Even the pan-Nordic airline SAS encountered a serious disruption on its website. Earlier, a hacker group called Anonymous Sudan called for cyberattacks against Swedish authorities in protest against Quran-burnings in Stockholm and took responsibility for at least some of the cutoffs that hit Sweden.
For Sweden, the country's NATO accession is also at stake, as Turkiye, so far the only alliance member to openly oppose it, said Stockholm's bid cannot be met as long as Qurans are allowed to be burned publicly.
In addition to insurmountable difficulties in negotiations that Sweden admitted to previously, its NATO bid hit a wall amid a string of provocations that featured Turkish President Recep Erdogan hung in effigy in Stockholm, a cartoon contest held specifically to mock the Turkish leader, and copies of the Quran being burned by Danish-Swedish fringe Hard Line party leader Rasmus Paludan, who framed it as "a lesson in free speech for Erdogan."
Ever since, the Swedish minority government led by the liberal-conservative Moderates has been walking on eggshells in order to keep Ankara satisfied without making too overt concessions and losing face. Balancing the national interests with the country's commitment to freedom of speech and its image as a champion of human rights has proved a tall order, as the government has found itself under fire not only from the left-wing opposition (who claimed that Sweden effectively abandoned its humanitarian stance) but even right-wing allies the Sweden Democrats (who notoriously accused it of "groveling for dictatorial Islamism.")
Finland and Sweden filed a joint bid in May 2022 and intended to "walk the NATO path together," yet given Stockholm's troubles with Ankara, there has been a growing sentiment in Helsinki in favor of going forward alone, as Turkiye has repeatedly said it had no problems with Helsinki.
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