Protests were called by supporters of a prominent cleric who were angered by the burning of a Qur’an in StockholmGuardian staff and agenciesThu 20 Jul 2023 03.19 BST
Protesters angered by the burning of a copy of the Qur’an in Stockholm stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad early on Thursday, breaking into the compound and lighting a small fire.Online videos showed demonstrators at the diplomatic post waving flags and signs showing the influential Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The Swedish foreign ministry said all staff were safe.The videos showed dozens of men climbing over the fence at the complex, with the sound of them trying to break down a front door. Another showed what appeared to be a small fire being set.
Sweden called the attack on the embassy a serious violation of the Vienna convention and called on Iraqi authorities to “protect diplomatic missions and staff”.Iraq’s foreign ministry condemned the attack and said it would conduct an urgent investigation “in order to uncover the circumstances of the incident and identify the perpetrators of this act and hold them accountable according to the law”.Iraqi riot police fired water cannon to disperse demonstrators away from the embassy while security forces armed with electric batons chased protesters, an AFP photographer on the scene said.Some protesters had raised copies of the Qur’an into the air, while others held portraits of Sadr.
Thursday’s protest was called by supporters of Sadr, according to social media posts and other pro-Sadr media. The demonstrations were called after police reportedly granted approval for a protest in Stockholm in which a Qur’an would be burned. In late June, Sadr called for protests against Sweden and the expulsion of its ambassador after an Iraqi man burned a Qur’an outside a mosque in Stockholm. Two major protests took place outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in the aftermath of the Qur’an burning, with protesters breaching the embassy grounds on one occasion but not entering the embassy building itself.A similar protest by a far-right activist was held outside Turkey’s embassy earlier this year, complicating Sweden’s efforts to convince Turkey to let it join Nato.
With Reuters and Associated Press