A large group of Iraqi followers of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad in response to a Quran being burned outside a mosque in Stockholm.
The protestors remained within the embassy compound for around 15 minutes before retreating as security forces arrived on the scene. During the demonstration, a rainbow flag symbolizing the LGBTQ community was burned, and many chanted in support of the Quran while carrying portraits of al-Sadr.
The Shia leader, al-Sadr, had called on his followers to stage the protest, demand the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador, sever ties with Sweden, and continue burning the LGBTQ flag up until the eighth day of the lunar month of Muharram, as he stated, “it is what irritates them the most.”
The Quran burning incident in Sweden, part of a permitted demonstration, led to Swedish police charging the individual responsible, who identified himself as an Iraqi refugee in a newspaper interview, with agitation against an ethnic or national group. The Swedish police had earlier stated that while such actions could have foreign policy implications, the associated security risks and consequences were not significant enough to warrant the rejection of a demonstration permit.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi ministry asserted the perpetrator’s Iraqi citizenship and urged Sweden to extradite him for trial under Iraqi law. They argue that freedom of speech and legal justifications should not permit offenses to religious sanctities.