After the burning of a Koran in Sweden, thousands of people demonstrated in Iraq and religious students in Iran. Thousands gathered in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq on Friday for the second day in a row, eyewitnesses said. They took to the streets after Friday prayers, demanding that the man who set fire to a copy of the Holy Scriptures of Islam in front of the Stockholm mosque be held accountable.
The demonstrators followed a call from the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He called for an "angry, large demonstration" in front of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad to demand the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador. Thousands of protesters, mostly Sadrists, then gathered near the diplomatic mission. Demonstrators reportedly breached the gate to the embassy on Thursday.
In Iran, students of Islamic seminars gathered in front of the diplomatic mission in Tehran, as reported by state television. Protest slogans such as "Down with the enemies of the Koran" could be seen on posters. Iran's foreign ministry summoned the Swedish chargé d'affaires on Thursday.
Approved by the police
A Koran was set on fire at a demonstration in Stockholm on Wednesday. A man burned a copy of the Holy Scriptures of Islam in front of a Stockholm mosque. The police had previously approved this after other actions of this type had been banned in February. Willful desecration of the Koran is considered blasphemous in Islam. There are penalties in many Islamic countries.
Al-Sadr described the burning of the Koran as a "serious hate crime" and an attack on "justice and peace". The government in Baghdad demanded that the man - an Iraqi - be extradited so that he could be brought to justice.
In Iraq, protesters also set fire to the rainbow flag at a protest in the south and in Baghdad. This symbolizes the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people (LGBTQ). In Baghdad, some shouted "Yes to the Koran" and "No to homosexuality".