Sweden Will Not be Allowed to Join NATO Until Qur’an Burning is Banned: Ankara

Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara on January 18, 2023. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)
ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that unless Sweden bans the burning of the Islamic Qur’an, he will not agree to the country’s bid for membership in the NATO military alliance.

President Erdogan stated this week that Turkey will refuse to give a green light for Swedish membership in NATO as long as it remains legal for people to burn copies of the Islamic holy book following a recent burning of the Qur’an last month.

“As long as you allow my holy book, the Qur’an, to be burned and torn apart, we will not say yes to your entry into NATO. Our view of Finland is positive, but not of Sweden,” Erdogan said, broadcaster SVT reports. Finnish police blocked a Qur’an burning just this week.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström replied to Erdogan’s comments saying, ” We do not compromise on freedom of expression, it is very clear what is required for Sweden to become a member of NATO and that is that we meet the requirements stated in the trilateral memorandum.”

“And we will do so within the framework set by our Constitution, our legislation and principles of the rule of law,” he added.

“Religion is not part of the agreement. That being said, I fully understand that people are offended by the burning of holy scriptures, and find it deeply hurtful. Not everything that is legal is appropriate,” he said.

Turkey has made many demands from Sweden since the county applied to join NATO last year, including demanding the deportation of those Turkey deems to be terrorists, and has accused Sweden of supporting terrorists as well.

Tensions between the two countries were further heightened last month after Danish anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Qur’an in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, leading to condemnation from Turkey and other Islamic countries across the world.

Swedish political scientist Marja Lemne told the newspaper Aftonbladet, “I don’t think we’ve understood how hurtful it can be for many of a different religion when desecrating sacred phenomena. I am not surprised by this reaction,” and added it is not possible to change laws on burning the Qur’an quickly.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com.


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