The Iraqi government has taken the decision to expel the Swedish ambassador and recall its envoy from Sweden in response to Stockholm’s permitting of a protest outside Iraq’s diplomatic mission where activists were seen desecrating the Quran. The actions of the Swedish government were seen as offensive and insulting to Islamic sanctities and the burning of the Iraqi flag.
On Thursday afternoon, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani announced the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador and the recall of the Iraqi Chargé d’Affairs from the Embassy of Iraq in Stockholm. Government spokesman Basim Alawadi stated that al-Sudani had directed the Foreign Ministry to implement these measures. The decision was prompted by Sweden’s repeated permission for the burning of the Holy Quran and its failure to protect the Iraqi Embassy in Baghdad.
The expulsion comes amidst a diplomatic row that began when Swedish police allowed an Iraqi national to burn a copy of the Quran in Stockholm last month, and granted permission for a similar protest outside the Iraqi Embassy. Although the protesters did not burn the Quran during the demonstration at the embassy, they were observed stepping on it. Additionally, an Iraqi flag and photos of influential Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were thrown on the ground and kicked.
Earlier this week, angry Iraqis marched on the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad to protest against the planned Quran burning. They breached the building and set it on fire, causing damage. No diplomatic staff were harmed during the incident, but Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom criticized the Iraqi government for failing to protect the embassy.
Iraqi officials condemned the attack on the Swedish Embassy and vowed to guard the building. However, they warned that any recurrence of Quran burning on Swedish soil would lead to the severing of diplomatic relations. In response to the protest in Stockholm, Iraq’s Media and Communications Commission suspended the operating license for Ericsson, a major Swedish telecom company, and threatened to cut ties with other Swedish businesses.
The decision to expel the Swedish ambassador and recall the envoy demonstrates Iraq’s strong objection to the desecration of the Quran and the lack of action taken by the Swedish government to address these offenses. The move reflects Iraq’s commitment to protecting its religious and national symbols, and sends a message that such actions will not be tolerated. The diplomatic fallout between Iraq and Sweden highlights the importance of respecting religious sensitivities and maintaining diplomatic decorum.