Turkey summons Danish envoy for protest against Quran burning

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Turkey has summoned Denmark’s ambassador and accused Denmark of endorsing a “hate crime” after an anti-Islam activist burned two copies of Islam’s holy book on Friday , the Koran, during a solitary demonstration in Copenhagen.

Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, had previously infuriated Turkey by staging a Koran-burning protest in Sweden on January 21. On Friday, he replicated the stunt in front of a mosque, as well as the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen, and pledged to continue every Friday until Sweden is admitted to NATO.

Sweden and neighboring Finland are seeking to join the military alliance amid the war in Ukraine, in a historic break from their non-aligned policies. But joining requires the approval of all NATO members, and Turkey has indicated it will block Sweden’s candidacy, in part because of Paludan’s initial stunt. Even before that, Ankara was urging both countries to crack down on Kurdish militants and other groups it considers terrorists.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said the Danish ambassador was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry where Turkish officials “strongly condemned the authorization given for this act of provocation which clearly constitutes a hate crime”.

The ambassador was told that “Denmark’s attitude is unacceptable” and that Turkey expected the authorization to be revoked, according to Anadolu.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry later issued a statement calling Paludan an “Islam-hating charlatan” and deploring the fact that he was allowed to organize the protest.

“Showing tolerance towards such heinous acts which offend the sensibilities of millions of people living in Europe threatens the practice of peaceful coexistence and provokes racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim attacks,” the ministry said.

Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen told Danish media that the incident would not change Denmark’s “good relations” with Turkey, adding that Copenhagen intended to speak to Ankara about Danish laws guaranteeing the freedoms.

“Our task now is to speak to Turkey about the situation in Denmark with our open democracy, and that there is a difference between Denmark as a country – and our people as such – and then on the individuals who have strongly divergent points of view,” said Løkke Rasmussen.

After Paludan’s action in Sweden last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Stockholm not to expect support for his NATO bid. Turkey has also indefinitely postponed a key meeting in Brussels that would have discussed Swedish and Finnish membership.

On Friday, Paludan first burned a copy of the Muslim holy book outside a mosque in Copenhagen. Loud music blared from the mosque as he spoke, in an apparent attempt to drown out his words.

“This mosque has no place in Denmark,” Paludan said in a live broadcast on his Facebook page, wearing a hard hat and surrounded by riot police.

The activist, who has police protection, was then taken away in a police car.

Later, outside the Turkish Embassy, ​​Paludan said over a megaphone: “Once he (Erdogan) lets Sweden into NATO, I promise that I will not burn the Koran in front of the Turkish Embassy. Otherwise, I will do it every Friday at 2 p.m. »

A lawyer, Paludan created far-right parties in Sweden and Denmark that won no seats in national, regional or municipal elections. In last year’s parliamentary elections in Sweden, his party won just 156 votes nationwide.

Protests were held in several predominantly Muslim countries on Friday to denounce the Paludan protest in Sweden and a similar incident in the Netherlands.

Protests in countries like Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon have ended in a peaceful dispersal of people. In Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, police arrested protesters trying to march towards the Swedish Embassy.

Meanwhile, the United States has issued a security warning, warning American citizens in Turkey of possible retaliatory attacks on places of worship or places frequented by Westerners following the fire incidents. of the Koran.


Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey.


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