A woman holds a photograph of far-right activist Rasmus Paludan during a small protest outside the Swedish consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.
Sweden’s foreign ministry Saturday warned Swedes in Turkey to avoid crowds and demonstrations following protests there over the burning of the Quran by a far-right politician in Stockholm last week.
Turkey has suspended talks with Sweden and Finland on their applications to join NATO after the protest at which Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
Paludan’s actions have led to demonstrations in several Muslim countries as well as in Turkey.
Members of pro-Turkish organization Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) demonstrate in support of Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, Jan. 21, 2023.
“Swedes in Turkey are asked to stay updated on the development of events and to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations,” the foreign ministry said on its advice page for Swedes abroad.
“Continued demonstrations can be expected outside the embassy in Ankara and the consulate general in Istanbul in the coming days.”
After Paludan’s protest, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he supported freedom of speech.
“But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act,” Kristersson said on Twitter.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
They need support from all 30 members of the Alliance. Turkey has said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt, in order for it to back NATO membership for the two Nordic countries.