Middle East Protests
Iraq expelled the Swedish ambassador yesterday after hundreds of Iraqi protesters stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad, setting it partially on fire, to protest a planned burning of the Quran in Stockholm. The Iraqi government also recalled its chargé d'affaires—the acting ambassador when the ambassador is not in-country— from Stockholm and suspended business for Swedish companies. The protests were triggered after Swedish police granted permission for a group, including Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika, to hold a demonstration that would include burning a copy of the Quran outside the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm under the pretext of freedom of speech. In yesterday's event, the protesters allegedly partially destroyed a copy of the Quran but did not set it on fire. Momika previously burned a copy outside Stockholm's main mosque during Eid celebrations last month. Muslims consider the Quran to be sacred and view burning it as a direct offense against God. The freedom of speech laws are protected by the Swedish Constitution; however, the government has said it is considering legal changes.