Turkish President Erdogan says no individual has the freedom to insult Islam or any other religion after an anti-Muslim leader was given permission from the Swedish government to burn a copy of the Quran.
Sweden should not expect any good news from Türkiye on its NATO bid if it does not show respect to Islam, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
"Those who caused such a disgrace in front of our embassy should not expect any benevolence from us regarding their NATO membership applications," Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara on Monday.
Erdogan's pointed remarks came after Rasmus Paludan, the leader of Denmark’s far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party, under police protection and with permission from the Swedish government, burned on Saturday a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
He added that if Sweden "does not show respect to the religious beliefs" of Muslims in Türkiye and around the world, it will not receive any support from Ankara.
Earlier, Türkiye's Presidency of Religious Affairs, Diyanet, announced plans to take legal action abroad against the incident.
Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara says:— TRT World (@trtworld) January 23, 2023
- Those who allow such disgraceful acts in front of Turkish embassy in Stockholm can't expect good news from Ankara on NATO membership
- If you don't respect religion of Türkiye or Muslims, you won't get any support from us on NATO pic.twitter.com/a9IVAvVXbK
Tolerating, supporting terror groups
Erdogan also criticised a recent protest of supporters of the banned terror group PKK, which the city of Stockholm allowed to proceed.
"If they love the members of the terrorist organisation and the enemies of Islam that much, we advise them to delegate their country's defence to them."
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the US and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in May, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
But Türkiye – a NATO member for more than 70 years – voiced objections, accusing the two countries of tolerating and even supporting terror groups, including the PKK.
Any country joining NATO requires the unanimous approval of member states.
Top religious body to take incident to courts
Meanwhile, Presidency of Religious Affairs head Ali Erbas told reporters in the capital Ankara on Monday that the religious body's representatives and consultants in 120 countries to protest the incident.
"We will raise our voice not only against the heinous Quran burning incident in Sweden, but also against Islamophobic attacks in European countries."
Erbas said the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) were planning an online meeting on the subject on Wednesday.
He said they would also reach the representatives of different organisations via letters.
"We will also show our stance against such attacks on the Quran and mosques by writing letters to various places," said Erbas, urging a concerted voice against anti-Muslim attacks worldwide.