An anti-Islam activist has burned copies of the Muslim holy book near a mosque in Copenhagen and outside the Turkish embassy in Denmark.
Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist with dual Danish and Swedish citizenship, had already angered the Turkish government by organizing a protest against the burning of the Koran in Sweden on January 21.
On Friday, he repeated the ruse in front of a mosque, as well as in front of the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen, promising to continue every Friday until Sweden is accepted into NATO.
Sweden and neighboring Finland are seeking to join the military alliance amid the war in Ukraine, in a historic departure from non-aligned policies.
However, their accession would require the approval of all NATO members, and Turkey has indicated that it will block Sweden’s bid – in part because of Paludan’s initial ruse.
Even before that, Ankara had been pressuring the two countries to crack down on armed groups, Kurdish activists and other groups it deemed “terrorist”.
summoned the ambassador
The Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency said the Danish ambassador was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry as “Turkish officials strongly condemned the permission given for this provocative act which clearly constitutes a hate crime”.
The ambassador was told that “Denmark’s position is unacceptable” and that Turkey expected the permission to be revoked.
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs later issued a statement calling Paludan an “Islamophobic charlatan” and denouncing the fact that he was allowed to organize the demonstration.
“Showing tolerance towards such heinous acts that offend the sensitivities of millions of people living in Europe threatens the practice of peaceful coexistence and provokes racist, xenophobic and Muslim attacks,” the ministry said.
Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen told Danish media that the incident would not change the “good relationship” between Denmark and Turkey, adding that Copenhagen intended to speak to Ankara about Danish laws supporting freedoms.
“Our task now is to talk to Turkey about conditions in Denmark with our open democracy, that there is a difference between Denmark as a country – and our people as such – and then about individuals who have very different opinions,” Lokke Rasmussen said.
After Paludan’s move in Sweden last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Stockholm not to expect support for its NATO bid. Turkey also indefinitely postponed a key meeting in Brussels that was to discuss membership of Sweden and Finland.
On Friday, Paludan burned a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of a mosque in Copenhagen. Loud music blared from the mosque as he spoke, apparently in an attempt to drown out his words, according to the Associated Press news agency.
“There is no place for this mosque in Denmark,” Paludan said in a live broadcast on his Facebook page, while wearing a protective helmet and surrounded by riot police.
Paludan, who has police protection, is then taken away in a police car.
Later, in front of the Turkish embassy, Paludan was quoted as saying over a bugle, “Once [Erdogan] You allowed Sweden to join NATO, and I promise I will not burn the Koran outside the Turkish embassy. Otherwise, I’ll do it every Friday at 2pm.”
Paludan, a lawyer, founded far-right parties in both Sweden and Denmark that failed to win any seats in national, regional or municipal elections. In last year’s parliamentary elections in Sweden, his party received only 156 votes nationwide.
On Friday, protests were held in several Muslim-majority countries to denounce a Walden protest in Sweden and a similar incident in the Netherlands.
The condemnation and protests in countries like Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon ended with people dispersing peacefully. In the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, police stopped some protesters who were trying to walk towards the Swedish embassy.
Meanwhile, the United States issued a security alert, warning American citizens in Turkey of possible reprisal attacks against places of worship or places frequented by Westerners after the Quran burning incidents.
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