La Croix International writes about the controversy behind a recent Quran-burning incident outside the Great Mosque of Stockholm. While the incident was projected by Swedish free speech laws, the burning has been controversial, especially in Muslim-majority countries like Iraq.
In Iraq, the local Christian minority fears that some in the country will link them with the incident. Mar Awa Royel, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, immediately denounced the burning. Thousands of Christians have left Iraq over the past decade due to political and economic instability.
The article continues:
Thousands of followers of popular Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr who has a large grassroots following protested in major cities in Iraq condemning the burning of a Quran. Protestors breached Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad and Iraq’s foreign ministry condemned Sweden’s decision to allow the incident saying such acts “inflame the feelings of Muslims around the world and represent a dangerous provocation.” The Iraqi government has also called on Swedish authorities to extradite the man who burned the Quran so that prosecutors can bring him to justice in Iraq.
The 37-year-old man tore up and burned a Quran in Stockholm, capital of Sweden where courts have allowed anti-Quran demonstrations saying that not allowing such acts infringed freedom of speech. However, the burning of the Quran was condemned by the Swedish government and Sweden Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson saying, “It is a serious security situation. There is no reason to insult other people.”
Christians in Iraq fear that his act of desecration will have a backlash on the local Christian community that has the target of violence in recent decades.
Comments from media show that some Iraqis are attempting to link the Christian community in their country to the Stockholm Quran burning. That is why Mar Awa Royel, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, immediately after the incident, issued a statement in which he described the desecration as the work of “an atheist of Iraqi origin”, aimed at spreading hatred. Iraqi Christian political representatives also condemned the incident.
Pope Francis said he felt “angry and disgusted” at last week’s Quran burning in Sweden and condemned and rejected the desecration of the Muslim holy book as a form of freedom of speech.