After last week’s anti-Turkish activities in Stockholm, including the burning of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy, tensions between Sweden and Turkey remain high. According to Euractiv.com, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded response:
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book … Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable.
While Kurdish exiles in Stockholm have recently protested the Turkish government, Swedish news site Samnytt.se reports that thousands of people held anti-Swedish rallies in Turkey where at least one Swedish flag was set on fire.
In response, the Swedish embassy in Ankara posted a publicly visible note stating: “We do not share that book burning idiot’s view.” The note was a reference to Danish-Swedish immigration critic Rasmus Paludan, who executed the burning of the Koran at the Turkish embassy.
With reference to the protests in Ankara, Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt tweeted:
In a comment to the daily Swedish newspaper Expressen, Mr. Paludan stated that he was surprised at the forceful reactions in Turkey. When asked if he regretted burning the Koran, he explained:
Not at all. I did it because I believe there were important political reasons [to do it]. That said, I am saddened by how many people threaten to kill me. … I receive many concrete threats. On social media I get perhaps 20 messages a minute, of which five are threats.
Adding to the tensions between Stockholm and Ankara, the youth league of the far-left political party Vänsterpartiet has vowed to continue to express its support for the Kurdish PKK. The Swedish government has declared PKK a terrorist organization, but its sympathizers have been able to freely express their opinions in Sweden. Turkey has demanded that members of the PKK be extradited from Sweden, as a prerequisite for approving the Swedish application for NATO membership.