Swedish court overturns police decision to ban Qur’an burnings
A Swedish court Tuesday overturned a police decision to ban two Qur’an burning protests, as five suspected Islamists were arrested for plotting a “terrorist act” over a similar demonstration.
The burning of Islam’s holy book outside Turkiye’s embassy in Stockholm in January angered the Muslim world, sparking weeks of protests and calls for a boycott of Swedish goods, and holding up Sweden’s NATO membership bid.
Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court overturned a police decision to ban two subsequent Qur'an burning protests in February, saying security risk concerns were not enough to limit the right to demonstrate.
The “police authority did not have sufficient support for its decisions,” judge Eva-Lotta Hedin said in a statement.
Swedish police had refused to authorize the Qur'an burnings outside the Turkish and Iraqi embassies in Stockholm in February saying that the January protest had made Sweden “a higher priority target for attacks.”
Turkiye took particular offense that police had authorized the demonstration. Ankara has blocked Sweden’s NATO bid because of what it perceives as Stockholm’s failure to crack down on Kurdish groups it views as “terrorists.”
Swedish politicians have criticized the Qur'an burnings but defended the right to freedom of expression.
Sweden’s Security Service meanwhile said five suspects were arrested early Tuesday in coordinated raids in the central towns of Eskilstuna, Linkoping and Strangnas.
“The current case is one of several that the Swedish Security Service has been working on... in connection with the high-profile Qur'an burning,” said Susanna Trehorning, deputy head of the security service’s counterterrorism unit.
She said the suspects were linked to international “Islamic extremism.”
The Security Service said however that it did not believe that an attack had been imminent.
“The Security Service often needs to act early in order to avert a threat. We can’t wait until a crime has been committed before we act,” it said in a statement.