Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has come under fire, including from a top ally, after he criticised a Qur’an being burned outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm over the weekend.
Prime Minister Kristersson stated on Twitter that he felt the Qur’an burning, which was carried out by Danish anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan, was not appropriate and expressed sympathy to Muslims who had been offended by the act.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today,’ Kristersson wrote on Twitter.
Many Twitter users criticised the statement, with one asking whether or not the Swedish leader should make Ankara the capital of Sweden and implement Sharia law.
Turkish Govt’s Anger as Qur’an Burnt in Protest Outside Embassy in Stockholm https://t.co/jUixc7Shiq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 22, 2023
However, a series of leaked emails revealed that populist Sweden Democrats (SD) leader Jimmie Akesson, a key ally of the Kristersson government, was also very displeased with the statement.
An email from Åkesson’s chief of staff Linus Bylund showed proposals for public statements from the SD leader on the issue such as, “I will take up this move with the Prime Minister and announce how I and the Sweden Democrats view this kind of appeasement towards Islamist forces, inside and outside Sweden.”
Akesson responded by stating, “Of course, we should not engage in arguing unnecessarily or seeking media effect if it puts Swedish interests at risk, but there is definitely a limit to when sanity and balance in the debate turns into pure creeping for dictatorship-craven Islamism and ‘understanding’ of Islamists who have settled in Sweden and do not respect the most basic principles of our society.”
SD press manager Oskar Cavalli-Björkman responded to the newspaper Aftonbladet, which published the emails, confirming there had been discussions internally on the issue.
Turkey Demands Sweden and Finland Hand Over 130 Alleged Terrorists in Return for NATO Membershiphttps://t.co/oC5lqqwDPC
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 17, 2023
The Qur’an burning comes as tensions have increased between Sweden and Turkey, as Turkey continues to refuse to approve of Sweden for NATO membership and has demanded both countries extradite at least 130 alleged terrorists before Ankara will approve of their membership in the alliance.
Defense Minister Pål Jonson, who has now cancelled a trip to Turkey next week on the subject of NATO membership, commented on the Qur’an burning protest saying, “It doesn’t make it easier for us to become members of NATO, that’s the way it is. But we will strive to have a constructive dialogue with Turkey so that as soon as possible can become members of NATO.”