Iran’s foreign ministry has summoned Sweden’s charge d’affaires in Tehran over the burning of a copy of the Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm.
Condemning what Iran described as an insult to the most sacred Islamic sanctities, the ministry’s director-general for Western Europe summoned the diplomat on Thursday in the absence of Sweden's ambassador to Tehran.
“While Muslims are performing the Hajj, ... insulting their sanctities merely serves the path of spreading hatred and violence, exploiting the principle of freedom of expression,” read a statement by the ministry.
Two men publicly burned the Quran outside Stockholm's central mosque on Wednesday, an act approved by a Swedish court.
It was deliberately timed to coincide with the significant Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, further magnifying the incident's significance.
Some 200 onlookers witnessed one of the two protesters tearing up pages of a copy of the Quran and wiping his shoes with it before putting bacon in it and setting the book on fire, while the other spoke into a megaphone.
Several attendees shouted "God is Great" in Arabic to protest the burning, and one man was detained by police after he attempted to throw a rock.
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani also condemned the Swedish government for permitting disrespect to the Muslim holy book on Thursday.
The act has led to protest rallies in several Muslim countries, with Iraqis holding a large demonstration outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.
Morocco also recalled its ambassador to Sweden late Wednesday to protest the desecration. Turkey’s foreign minister also criticized the move saying it is “unacceptable to allow anti-Islam protests in the name of freedom of expression”.
Burning religious texts is "disrespectful and hurtful", the deputy spokesperson for the US State Department told reporters in a daily briefing as well. "What might be legal is certainly not necessarily appropriate," Vedant Patel said.