According to multiple local media outlets, a Swedish activist who planned to burn a copy of the Koran has now decided to replace it with the NATO founding document. The 29-year-old activist aimed to provoke Turkey into blocking Stockholm’s bid to join the US-led military alliance by desecrating the Muslim holy book.
The activist, identified as Lucas Ljungkvist, initially received permission from the police to burn a religious text in the city of Helsingborg in southern Sweden on Wednesday. However, shortly after the approval was granted, Turkey announced its agreement to allow Sweden into NATO. This development prompted Ljungkvist to change his plans and burn a copy of the North Atlantic Treaty instead.
Reports from SVT and the Aftonbladet newspaper stated that Ljungkvist described Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s U-turn as “deplorable and terrible.” He clarified that his demonstration would be against NATO as a whole, rather than solely focusing on Sweden’s accession. Ljungkvist emphasized that he did not have anything against the Koran or Muslims; his intention was solely to provoke Ankara.
Ljungkvist acknowledged that some people took offense at his planned Koran-burning stunt and apologized to them. However, he still believed that his application to the authorities was justified. Over the weekend, thousands of people in the Swedish capital and the city of Malmo protested against Koran-burning performances.
Sweden and neighboring Finland applied for NATO membership last year, breaking their long-standing traditions of military neutrality. The countries cited Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine as the reason for their application. While Finland was admitted to the alliance in April, Turkey has consistently blocked Sweden’s application, accusing the country of harboring Kurdish terrorists.
Joining the US-led military bloc requires the unanimous support of all current members. Apart from the issue of Kurdish groups, President Erdogan has expressed his dissatisfaction with Koran-burning stunts in Sweden. After a similar incident in January, Erdogan warned that as long as Sweden allowed the desecration of the Islamic holy text, Turkey would not support Sweden’s entry into NATO.
In conclusion, the Swedish activist’s plan to burn a copy of the Koran for the purpose of provoking Turkey’s opposition to Stockholm’s NATO bid has been diverted. The activist now intends to burn a copy of the North Atlantic Treaty instead, following Turkey’s agreement to allow Sweden into NATO. The situation highlights the tensions surrounding Sweden’s bid for membership and the controversies surrounding Koran-burning acts in the country.