A Yemeni holds up a copy of the Koran during a protest against the desecration and burning of the Koran, in Sana'a, Yemen, 24 July 2023. EFE/EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

Sweden to ‘intensify’ border controls amid Quran burnings

Copenhagen, Aug 1 (EFE).- Sweden will intensify its border controls amid increased tensions with Muslim-majority nations after several Quran burning incidents in the country and in neighboring Denmark, the Swedish government said Tuesday.

Protester burn Swedish flags to protest against Sweden over burning of the copy of Koran in Sweden, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, 05 July 2023. EFE/EPA/NADEEM KHAWAR

Protesters burn Swedish flags to protest against Sweden over burning of the copy of Koran in Sweden, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, 05 July 2023. EFE/EPA/NADEEM KHAWAR

The measure, which will be approved on Thursday, will allow Swedish police to inspect vehicles, carry out searches and perform in-depth identity checks, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Justice Minister Gunnar Strömer said at a press conference.

“People with very weak ties to Sweden should not be able to come to Sweden to commit crimes,” Kristersson said.

The measure is part of a broad range of diplomatic and security initiatives that the Swedish government has pushed through in recent weeks, the PM underscored.

“We are in daily contact with the Swedish intelligence services at the moment, that’s how serious we think the situation is,” Kristersson said.

Sweden has gone from being a “legitimate” target for terrorist attacks to a “priority” one, according to Swedish security authorities.

Sweden and Denmark announced over the weekend that they were mulling banning Quran-burning protests and gatherings in front of foreign embassies, drawing criticism from opposition parties in both countries.

The move comes after several incidents in which Islam’s holy book was either burned or desecrated in both Denmark and Sweden by anti-Islam protestors.

The incidents have sparked fury and widespread protests in Muslim-majority nations.

Denmark and Sweden have condemned the burnings but past protests were approved under laws protecting freedom of expression and the right to protest.

“It is not about restricting freedom of expression, but about broadening the examination of permits for public gatherings,” Kristersson said.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has demanded that authorities in both Nordic nations take steps to stop such incidents, the latest of which came on Monday in front of the Swedish Parliament.

In recent weeks, several copies of the Muslim holy book were burned in front of the Iraqi and Egyptian embassies in Stockholm and Copenhagen, sparking anger among Muslims around the world and an unprecedented increase in diplomatic tensions between Muslim nations and Scandinavian countries.

In addition to sparking large demonstrations in Yemen and Iraq — where the Swedish embassy was torched — several governments of Muslim-majority countries have warned that allowing the burning of copies of the Quran could threaten diplomatic ties.

Iraq has ordered the removal of Sweden’s ambassador in Baghdad and threatened to terminate the contracts of companies operating in the region. EFE