Al-Azhar, one of the most prestigious institutions of Sunni Islam based in Egypt, called on Wednesday January 25 “to the boycott of Swedish and Dutch products” after the desecrations of Korans by far-right activists this weekend in Sweden and the Netherlands.
As part of a protest authorized by Swedish police near the Turkish embassy, Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Koran on Saturday. On Sunday, a Dutch leader of the Islamophobic movement Pegida was filmed, alone, tearing up pages from a copy of the Koran near the Dutch parliament, before trampling them. According to Dutch public television NOS, however, the local police prevented him from burning the holy book of Muslims. These two events sparked strong protests from Ankara and several capitals of the Muslim world as well as demonstrations in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In a press release, the Sunni institution called “Muslims to boycott Dutch and Swedish products”demanding “an appropriate response to the governments of these two countries (…) and their persistence in shielding despicable and barbaric crimes in the name of “freedom of speech”. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has “strongly condemned” the two acts by press releases, expressing in the second Monday his “deep concern at the recurrence of such events and the recent Islamophobic escalation in a number of European countries”.
Wrath of Turkey
Stockholm, for its part, deplored an act ‘deeply disrespectful’ and expressed his “sympathy” to Muslims by pointing out that the Swedish Constitution prevented such acts from being prohibited. This was not enough to calm the anger of Turkey, more determined than ever to block Sweden’s candidacy for NATO membership.
On Monday Washington called the burning of the Koran an act of “repugnant” denouncing a “provocation” and a will “deliberate to influence the ongoing discussions on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO” and D’“weaken” transatlantic unity. “I want to renew a working dialogue with Turkey”said Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at a press conference on Tuesday, criticizing the “provocateurs” who are trying to destabilize the Swedish candidacy and calling for the “calm” faced with a situation “severe”.