Swedish Embassy in Baghdad Set Ablaze by Protesters
In a recent development, supporters of influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed and set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. The incident was triggered by expectations of a Quran burning in Sweden, an event that has historically sparked widespread protests and condemnations in countries with a Muslim majority.
According to a Reuters source, no embassy staff were injured in the attack. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the safety of the embassy personnel. A spokesperson for the ministry also stated that it is the responsibility of the Iraqi authorities to protect diplomatic missions and their staff.
The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the storming of the embassy. In a statement, it announced that the Iraqi government has instructed security forces to conduct a swift investigation, identify the perpetrators, and hold them accountable.
Videos shared on a popular Telegram channel supporting al-Sadr show people gathering at the embassy and storming the complex shortly after. Other videos show smoke emanating from a building within the embassy compound. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of these videos, nor was it clear if anyone was present in the embassy when the complex was stormed.
The Quran Burning Controversy
Reports suggest that police in Stockholm have permitted a demonstration outside the Iraqi embassy where a new Quran burning is planned. Last month, al-Sadr called for protests against Sweden and the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador following a Quran burning incident at a mosque in Stockholm by an Iraqi man.
In the aftermath of that Quran burning, two large demonstrations took place at the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. During one of these protests, the demonstrators entered the embassy grounds but did not intrude into the embassy building itself.