Saudi Arabia summons Swedish ambassador over Quran burning at Stockholm mosque

Riyadh is the latest regime to complain to Stockholm over desecration of holy Muslim book

Iranian demonstrators chant slogans during a protest of the burning of a Quran in Sweden, in front of the Swedish Embassy in Tehran, Iran, June 30, 2023. (Vahid Salemi/AP)
Iranian demonstrators chant slogans during a protest of the burning of a Quran in Sweden, in front of the Swedish Embassy in Tehran, Iran, June 30, 2023. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia has summoned Sweden’s ambassador to denounce a Quran burning outside a Stockholm mosque that sparked a diplomatic backlash across the Muslim world, state media reported early Monday.

The kingdom — home to the holiest sites in Islam, in Mecca and Medina — had already condemned Wednesday’s incident in which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Muslim holy book and set several pages alight.

The foreign ministry summoned the ambassador on Sunday to urge Sweden “to stop all actions that directly contradict international efforts seeking to spread the values of tolerance, moderation and rejection of extremism, and undermine the necessary mutual respect for relations between peoples and states,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

According to the Embassy of Sweden’s website, Petra Menander is ambassador-designate.

Momika’s Quran burning coincided with the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday and the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, triggering widespread anger.

Countries including Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco have also summoned Swedish ambassadors in protest.

Salwan Momika holds up a Quran before setting some pages on fire in a protest outside a mosque in Stockholm on June 28, 2023, during the Eid al-Adha holiday. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP)

Iran said on Sunday it was holding off on sending its new ambassador to Sweden because of the incident.

At an extraordinary meeting on Sunday at its Jeddah headquarters, the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation called for collective measures to avoid future Quran burnings.

Swedish police had granted Momika a permit in line with free speech protections, but authorities later said they had opened an investigation over “agitation against an ethnic group,” noting that Momika had burnt pages from the Islamic holy book very close to the mosque.

Sweden’s government condemned Momika’s actions on Sunday, calling them “Islamophobic.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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