Quran burnings pose ‘complex security situation’ for Sweden, warns premier


Sweden’s prime minister warned Tuesday that a recent string of attacks in the country desecrating the Muslim holy book, the Quran, poses a “complex security situation.”

“As everyone knows, we have a complex security situation both in and around Sweden. We have different narratives that are being spread,” Ulf Kristersson said at a joint news conference with Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer in Stockholm.

“It maybe to prevent the NATO application or to spread a false image of Sweden,” said Kristersson, promising measures to protect Swedish citizens.

“We also have individuals spreading hateful messages. It is extremely important to stop dangerous people from coming to Sweden,” he stressed. “We are currently in daily contact with the Swedish intelligence services. That’s how serious we think the situation is.”

Kristersson asserted that boosting border controls would help identify people entering the country who may threaten its national security. The government will be decide on the action Thursday.

For his part, Strommer underlined the importance of stopping “dangerous people from coming to Sweden.”

“In practice, this means that checks on who passes into Sweden must increase,” he said.

The justice minister noted that police would also have increased powers to search vehicles and carry out body searches inside Sweden.

According to him, the aim is to “strengthen police work and prevent threats to internal security.”

Legal revisions to prevent provocations

The government currently has no plans to change Sweden’s law on agitation against an ethnic group to prevent future Quran burnings, Strommer said.

“The focus will instead be on looking into how the Public Order Act can be adjusted to give both police and the government greater powers to block such demonstrations, particularly when there is a heightened security risk,” he explained.

One potential solution, he said, could be to use emergency powers that the government can wield under the Public Order Act to prevent demonstrations.

The alternative would be to amend that law, but this would require a comprehensive government inquiry that could last over a year before issuing recommendations, Strommer added.

He said that to take action immediately against such incidents, authorities will need to use the emergency powers under the current legislation.

According to public broadcaster SVT, three requests for public gatherings to burn the Quran have been withdrawn by Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee in Sweden who carried out similar acts against copies of the holy book recent weeks, including one in front of the Swedish parliament on Monday.

Recent months have seen repeated acts of Quran burning or desecration, or attempts by Islamophobic figures or groups, especially in northern European and Nordic countries, drawing outrage from Muslim countries and the world.

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