Sweden has allowed far-right racist leader Rasmus Paludan to burn copy of the Muslim holy book in front of the Turkish embassy building in Stockholm.
Türkiye has summoned Sweden's ambassador to Ankara after the Swedish government allowed a far-right, anti-Muslim racist leader to burn a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, diplomatic sources said.
Rasmus Paludan, a convicted racist, received a permit from the Swedish government to burn the Muslim holy book in front of the embassy building on Saturday, January 21, The Washington Post reported.
"Upon learning that the act of burning our holy book, the Holy Quran, near our Stockholm embassy in Sweden, was allowed, the Swedish ambassador to Ankara was summoned to our ministry today," sources in the Turkish foreign affairs ministry said.
It has been conveyed to the Swedish ambassador that Türkiye strongly condemns the provocative act, "which is clearly a hate crime", the sources added.
"Sweden's attitude is unacceptable. We expect the act not to be allowed, and that insults to sacred values cannot be defended under the guise of 'democratic rights'."
Türkiye has also warned Sweden that allowing the propaganda activities of PKK and affiliated circles, who have announced holding a demonstration in Stockholm, is a clear violation of the tripartite agreement.
Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO in May last year, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia's military action against Ukraine. But Türkiye – a NATO member for over 70 years – voiced objections, saying the two countries have been tolerating and supporting terrorist groups.
Later in June 2022, Türkiye and the two Nordic countries signed a memorandum at a NATO summit to address Ankara's security concerns, paving the way for their eventual membership in the alliance. Seven months have passed since the signing of the memorandum and Sweden is yet to fulfil the agreed recommendations.
READ MORE: Swedish professor punishes Turkish student over Sweden's NATO bid
Rasmus Paludan – a habitual offender
Paludan, who heads Denmark's far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party and holds both Danish and Swedish nationalities, is a controversial figure.
In 2020, he was convicted of racism and sentenced to jail after he posted anti-Islam videos on his party's official social media handles. Though Paludan had appealed the conviction, a Danish High Court still upheld the decision, finding the politician guilty of racism.
The 41-year-old racist leader said he "wants to mark some freedom of speech" after the hanging of an effigy likened to the image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Stockholm last week drew a strong response from Ankara, DailyMail reported.
This isn't the first time Paludan has attempted to hide behind the facade of "freedom of speech". In April last year, Sweden's Malmo had been set aflame when riots erupted following Paludan's announcement to go on a "Quran burning tour" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Over 40 people had been arrested, leaving some injured, when protesters took to the streets against Swedish authorities' decision to allow the far-right leader's plans to burn the copies of the Muslim holy book.
Paludan also burned a copy of the Quran in 2019, wrapping the holy book in bacon and tossing it in the air.
In September 2020, Paludan was banned from entering Sweden for two years. Later in October of the same year, he was prevented from entering Germany for some time after the controversial politician announced plans to hold a provocative, anti-Muslim demonstration in Berlin.
READ MORE: Danish far-right party leader burns copy of holy Quran in Sweden
Sweden's backing of terror, hate
Sweden's backing of terrorists and hateful elements taking refuge in its society came to the fore again last week when a Swedish prosecutor dismissed complaints against supporters of the wanted terror group PKK/YPG, who were accused of defaming and threatening the life of Erdogan.
The PKK/YPG supporters had hung an effigy likened to the image of Erdogan from its feet on a pole in front of the city hall during a protest in Stockholm. Swedish prosecutors said "their actions do not constitute a criminal offence".
The incident prompted Ankara to summon Sweden's ambassador, the latest in a series of diplomatic run-ins between the two nations.
Scenes of protests in Stockholm have been a particular issue mentioned by Turkish authorities in the past, with Erdogan saying members of the outlawed PKK/YPG should not be allowed to parade around Sweden.
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 accused of killing 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG/PYD is its Syrian branch.
READ MORE: Anger in Türkiye as Sweden rejects case against PKK backers