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Turkey summons Danish envoy over Quran burning protest

Rasmus Paludan

The leader of the far-right Danish political party Stram Kurs, Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan is pictured while holding an edition of The Quran (Koran), the central religious text of Islam, while staging a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, on January 21, 2023. - Turkey on January 21 called off a visit by Sweden's defence minister over a planned demonstration by a right-wing extremist in Stockholm, sparking a fresh crisis over NATO talks between the two countries. Turkey has been angered by permission obtained by Rasmus Paludan, a Swedish-Danish politician whose anti-Islamist actions sparked riots across Sweden last year, to stage a protest in front of its embassy in the Swedish capital. A day after summoning the Swedish ambassador over the issue, Ankara said it was cancelling a visit by Sweden's defence chief that was aimed at overcoming Turkey's objections to Sweden's bid to join the NATO military alliance. (Photo by Fredrik SANDBERG / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT

Turkey summoned Denmark’s ambassador on Friday over reports that a far-right extremist would be allowed to burn the Quran during a series of protests in Copenhagen, Agence France-Presse reported.

An AFP team witnessed anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan burn a copy of the Muslim holy book near a Copenhagen mosque later on Friday.

The Danish-Swedish dual national pledged to stage the same act outside the Turkish Embassy as well.

A decision by Swedish police to allow Paludan to stage a similar protest in Stockholm prompted Turkey to postpone planned NATO accession talks with Sweden and Finland.

A Turkish diplomatic source said the Danish ambassador was summoned to protest Denmark’s “unacceptable” attitude towards Paludan’s actions.

“We strongly condemn the decision to grant permission for this provocative act, which clearly constitutes a hate crime,” the Turkish diplomatic source told reporters.

Paludan told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that he would replicate the protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO.

Swedish leaders have strongly condemned Paludan’s act but defended their country’s broad acceptance of free speech.

Finland and Sweden broke with decades of military non-alignment and decided to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bids to join NATO must be approved by all 30 members of the alliance.

Turkey and fellow NATO member Hungary are the only members that have yet to ratify the two applications by votes in parliament.

Hungary’s parliament is expected to ratify the two bids next month.

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