The leader of a radical Islamist party who is an election ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his party will “do everything in their power” to prevent the approval of Sweden’s NATO membership by the Turkish parliament due to Quran burning protests in Sweden, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.
Turkey had been blocking Sweden’s membership bid, accusing Stockholm of harboring Kurdish activists and political dissidents Ankara regards as terrorists.
Erdoğan last month agreed to allow Sweden to join the NATO alliance. Sweden’s bid must still be approved by the Turkish parliament, but Erdoğan agreed to push for its ratification.
The president was slammed by both opposition and allied party leaders for his sudden change of heart.
Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu, chair of the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), criticized Erdoğan and his government at a party meeting on Sunday, for exhibiting a “soft” reaction to the Quran burnings in Sweden, vowing to do everything in their power to prevent the approval of Sweden’s NATO membership in the Turkish Parliament.
Parliament will hold a vote on the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership when it returns from summer recess in autumn.
Sweden and Denmark have seen several protests in recent months where copies of the Quran have been damaged or burned, causing outrage among Muslims. Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad was stormed and set on fire on July 20 by angry protesters.
The politician said the Turkish government should do more than just issue condemnations of the “attacks on the Quran” in Sweden and Denmark.
Erdoğan said Swedish officials bore full responsibility for the incidents.
“Those who commit this crime as well as those who allow it under the guise of freedom of expression, those who tolerate this despicable act will not be able to achieve their ambitions,” he said in a statement in June.
HÜDA-PAR won three seats in parliament thanks to its election alliance with Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the parliamentary elections in May.
The AKP’s alliance with HÜDA-PAR led to widespread criticism due to the latter’s alleged ties to Hizbullah, an extremist militant group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, and its regressive stance on social issues — factors that many perceive to be at odds with democratic principles.
Hizbullah has been accused of kidnappings, torture and targeted assassinations, predominantly aimed at individuals linked with Kurdish political movements.