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At least 10 arrested as riot erupts after Holy Quran desecration in Sweden

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Protesters build a burning barricade on a street during rioting in Norrkoping, Sweden on April 17, 2022.—AFP 

A violent riot erupted in Sweden after the desecration of the Holy Quran leading to the arrest of two individuals and the detention of approximately ten others. 

The rally, organised by Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika, has further fueled a series of protests that have ignited anger across the Middle East.

The events unfolded in a square in Malmo, densely populated by immigrants, where a rally took place. Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee known for instigating similar controversial events, organised the gathering, during which a copy of the Holy Quran was set on fire, provoking strong reactions from the bystanders.

Swedish police reported: “Spectators showed their emotion after the organiser burned the writings,” further noting that “the atmosphere was stormy,” leading to “violent riots” in the early afternoon.

After the departure of the organiser, the gathering seemed to disband, but a group of individuals chose to remain behind. Law enforcement took action, arresting approximately ten people for disturbing public order and detaining two others suspected of participating in the violent riots.

This incident follows the desecration of the Holy Quran in Stockholm at the end of July, where Salwan Momika and another individual, Salwan Naja, engaged in actions similar to those seen in previous rallies. These actions sparked diplomatic tensions between Sweden and Middle Eastern countries, culminating in attacks on the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.

The Swedish government has previously condemned Holy Quran desecrations while emphasising the nation’s commitment to the right to assembly and freedom of expression as protected by the constitution. The aftermath of these incidents has prompted Sweden to elevate its terrorist alert level and reinforce border controls.

In response to mounting concerns, neighbouring Denmark, where instances of public Holy Quran desecration have also occurred, is contemplating the prohibition of burning the Muslim holy book. Sweden is likewise exploring legal avenues to address this sensitive issue.

These recent events underscore the intricate challenge of balancing freedom of expression with the maintenance of social harmony in a multicultural society. Sweden, like many other nations, grapples with finding suitable approaches to address contentious actions that have the potential to incite violence and international tensions.

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