UPDATE: Iraq BANS Swedish Companies From Operating As Diplomatic Tensions Escalate

Image of a holy Muslim Quran.

Image of a holy Muslim Quran. Credit: Tanya Stolyarevskaya/Shutterstock.com

UPDATE; Friday, July 21 at 1:25 am

Ali Al-Moayyed, the head of the Media and Communications Commission in Baghdad announced on Thursday 20 that all Swedish companies are now banned from operating on Iraqi territory.

In a statement received by the Iraqi News Agency (INA), it stated that: ‘the head of the Media and Communications Authority, Ali Al-Moayyed, suspended the license to operate the Swedish Ericsson Telecom Company in Iraqi territory’.

‘This is a direct result of the State of Sweden allowing the burning of the Holy Qur’an and the Iraqi flag’, it added. The same will apply to other Swedish companies reported svt.se.

A spokesperson for Ericsson responded: ‘The events in Sweden, where the Koran was burned, are deeply disrespectful to the religious beliefs and values ​​held in high esteem by Muslims around the world. This action does not reflect respect, which is one of Ericsson’s core values’.


UPDATE: Thursday, July 20 at 9:40 pm

As diplomatic tensions escalate following this morning’s protests in Baghdad, Iraq has expelled the Swedish ambassador. At the same time, it also recalled its chargé d’affairs from Stockholm.

The announcement was made just as a demonstration was being held outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm. Salwan Momika – the Iraqi citizen who recently burned a copy of the Koran – planned to burn another holy book today.

Prior to the demonstration, the Iraqi prime minister had threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Sweden if the action went ahead.

As it turned out, the book was not burned but was allegedly kicked across the ground, according to aftonbladet.es this evening.


Thursday, July 20 at 5:16 pm

Several hundred people stormed Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad this morning, Thursday, July 20, and set it on fire.

The incident occurred in the early hours after the powerful Shia preacher and politician Muqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to protest over the recent Koran burnings, according to Aftonbladet, citing Reuters.

None of the embassy’s staff was injured in the event, with Iraqi riot police deployed to the scene after smoke was seen rising from the building at around 3:15 am, the news outlet pointed out.

AFP reported the use of electric batons by the riot police who were said to have used water cannons to disperse the angry crowd.

‘We are informed of the situation. Our embassy staff are safe and the Foreign Ministry is in constant contact with them’, stated the Foreign Ministry’s press service early this morning.

Swedish Foreign Minister, Tobias Billström, condemned the action

Tobias Billström, the Swedish Foreign Minister, tweeted: ‘The attacks against the Swedish embassy in Iraq are completely unacceptable. It is the second time in a short time that this has happened. Iraq has a responsibility to protect Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad. The government will today summon Iraq’s top diplomat in Sweden’.

He also issued a full statement about the incident.

Speaking with DN, terrorism researcher Hans Brun said he believed that the huge influence that Muqtada al-Sadr has over Shia Muslims may affect how Sweden reacts. He is very powerful they pointed out and his comments should be taken seriously all the time.

Permission was granted for a public gathering outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm

On Wednesday 19, the Swedish police granted an application for a public gathering outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm this Thursday. The application allegedly stated that they wanted to burn the Koran and the Iraqi flag.

Video clips shared on social media claimed to show how the crowd gathered at around 1 am local time. About an hour later, they entered the embassy, with subsequent videos showing smoke coming from a building inside the compound.

The Iraqi government condemned today’s violent scenes

This morning’s violent scenes were criticised by the Iraqi government. In a statement, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: ‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemns the act in which the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was set on fire’. It promised to ‘carry out an urgent investigation and take the necessary security measures’.

This is the second time in a month that the Swedish embassy has been targeted by angry mobs. Similar scenes occurred on June 29. Protesters entered the compound but they quickly dispersed when security forces arrived on the scene.

On that occasion, they were demonstrating against the burning of a Koran that took place outside a mosque in Stockholm the day before.

The people behind that burning are believed to be the same ones who received permission to carry out the action at the Iraqi embassy this Thursday.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com