Swedish police arrested a woman who sprayed an anti-Islam activist with a fire extinguisher as he burned a copy of the Koran outside the Iranian embassy in Stockholm.
Video from the scene shows the woman running towards Salwan Momika and spraying him with a white powder until she is stopped and taken away by plainclothes officers. Momika, who appeared dazed but unharmed, resumed his protest, which was authorized by the police.
Police spokeswoman Towe Hägg said the woman, whose identity was not released, was detained on suspicion of disorderly conduct and act of violence against a police officer.
Momika, an Iraqi refugee, has made several desecrations of the Koran at anti-Islamic protests that have sparked outrage in many Muslim countries. Prosecutors are investigating whether his actions are lawful under the hate speech law, which prohibits hate speech against groups or individuals based on their race, religion or sexual orientation. Momika claims that the target of her protests is Islam, but not Muslims.
The burning of copies of the Koran have sparked angry protests in Muslim countries, attacks on Swedish diplomatic missions and threats from Islamic extremists.
On Thursday, Sweden raised its terrorism alert level to its second highest level, signaling that the country had become a prime target for terrorist groups.
Momika stated that he will continue to burn copies of the Qur’an despite the threats to him and Sweden, because he wants to protect the Swedish population from the messages of the Qur’an. “I have freedom of expression”he told the Swedish news agency TT.
Muslim leaders in Sweden have called on the government to find a way to prevent the burning of the holy book. Sweden abolished blasphemy laws in 1970 and the government has stressed that it has no intention of reinstituting them. But on Friday the government announced that it is studying the legal possibilities of authorizing the police to deny permits for demonstrations for reasons of national security.
Swedish government studies allowing police to stop burning Korans
The Swedish government is considering modifying the Law on Public Order so that the police can deny permission for acts such as burning the Koran, but only if they threaten national security, as reported on Friday.
Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer said on Friday he would appoint a commission to look into giving police broader powers to deny acts such as Quran burning.
“Of course, general international discontent or a vague threat should not be enough: they must be serious and qualified threats,” Strommer told a news conference.
He added that it could give police the power to choose a different location for a protest or break it up.
The decision to appoint a commission drew immediate skepticism from several political parties, including the government’s pro-government party, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.
“Although different values always have to be weighed, we Swedish Democrats will never accept that we adapt to the threats and pressures of the Islamists and the dictatorships”, declared in a statement the leader of the Swedish Democrats party, Jimmie Akesson.
Earlier, the government said it had tightened security at embassies and other missions due to increased threats against Swedish interests abroad.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told the Swedish agency TT that Sweden has increased security at embassies and other missions, without giving details for security reasons.
“But the safety of Foreign Office staff is the top priority.he said, adding that the safety of the families of diplomats and local staff was also taken into account.
“So there are different categories that are affected by this security work that is now intensifying,” he said.
(With information from AP and Reuters)
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