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Swedish Police Receive Application To Burn Torah Outside Israeli Embassy

Sweden's attempts to be admitted to NATO could be colored by activists request to publicly burn Torah to promote freedom of speech

Swedish police have received a request to burn a Torah book in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm, officials said Wednesday.

The request follows the burning of a Koran outside the main mosque in the city that sparked a backlash across the Islamic world earlier this year.

The police force confirmed to Sweden’s national public broadcaster that it had received an application from a man in his 30s to burn Jewish and Christian holy books outside the embassy on July 15 as “a symbolic gathering for the sake of freedom of speech.”

Another request, one to burn a Koran “as soon as possible” in Stockholm, was submitted by a woman in her 50s. Two previous petitions to set the Muslim holy book afire were approved by the police, triggering international condemnation. The latest applications are under review.

Protesters are raising the Koran and anti-Sweden signs amidst angry protests in the city of Idlib, northwestern Syria on July 4th, 2023, against the burning of the Koran outside the Stockholm Mosque, which has angered Muslims worldwide. A Swedish activist has made a request to local police to burn the Torah at the Israeli embassy in Stockholm to protest the burning of the Koran.  RAMI ALSAYED/GETTY IMAGES 

 “I am shocked and horrified by the prospect of the burning of more books in Sweden, be it the Koran, the Torah or any other holy book,” Israel’s Ambassador to Sweden Ziv Nevo Kulman tweeted. “This is clearly an act of hatred that must be stopped.”

Several Jewish community leaders previously condemned both Koran burnings and have expressed dismay at the current situation. “We think that the burning of all religious books is a disgrace, and completely inappropriate.” said Aron Verstandig, the chairperson of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities.

He noted that although these were isolated events, the burning of the Koran, first in front of the Turkish embassy and then outside the central city mosque, have already hurt Sweden in the international arena and could disturb public perceptions in light of their bid to join NATO.

As mild religious tension builds in Stockholm, Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, met with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss Sweden’s admission to NATO. Biden has expressed support for Sweden to join NATO in hopes that Turkey would change their minds and buy into the idea. Turkey have accused Sweden of providing asylum to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members and have been hesitant about Sweden joining NATO as a result.

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) meets with Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, in the Oval Office of the White House July 5, 2023, in Washington, DC. The two leaders are expected to discuss Sweden’s bid to join NATO.  DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

In response to the burning of the Koran outside a mosque earlier this year, Kristersson tweeted saying: “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 is yet to offer any thoughts and remarks regarding the threats to publicly burn the Torah outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm.

(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)

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