Swedish police arrest two as riot breaks out at Koran burning protest
September 3, 2023 08:05 PM
Swedish police on Sunday arrested two people and detained around 10 people after a violent riot broke out at a protest involving a burning of the Koran, police said.
The protest was organised by Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika, whose protests -- which have included public desecrations of the Muslim holy book -- have sparked outrage across the Middle East.
Sunday's protest was held in a square in the southern city of Malmo, which has a large immigrant population, and according to public broadcaster SVT around 200 people had showed up to watch.
"Some onlookers have shown upset feelings, after the organiser burned writings," police said in a statement.
"The mood was at times heated," the statement said, adding that a "violent riot" occurred at 1:45 pm (1145 GMT).
According to police, the event had ended after the organiser left but a group of people remained at the scene.
About 10 people were detained for disturbing the public order and another two were arrested, suspected of violent rioting.
Local media reported that some onlookers threw rocks at Momika, and video from the scene showed some trying to break through the cordon before being stopped by police.
In another video a man could be scene trying to stop the police car that transported Momika from the location by getting in front of it.
Through a series of demonstrations, Momika has sparked anger directed at Sweden and diplomatic tensions between Sweden and several Middle Eastern countries.
The Swedish government has condemned the desecrations of the Koran while noting the country's constitutionally protected freedom of speech and assembly laws.
Iraqi protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad twice in July, starting fires within the compound on the second occasion.
Swedish envoys have also been summoned in a slew of Middle Eastern nations.
In mid-August, Sweden's intelligence agency heightened its terror alert level to four on a scale of five, noting that Sweden had "gone from being considered a legitimate target for terrorist attacks to being considered a prioritised target."
Sweden also decided to beef up border controls in early August.
In late August, neighbouring Denmark -- which has also seen a string of public desecrations of the Koran -- said it plans to ban Koran burnings.
Sweden has meanwhile vowed to explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of texts in certain circumstances.