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Turkey summons Danish envoy over Quran-burning protest

Far-right activist says he would continue protest until Sweden is admitted into NATO

Denmark Turkey Police cordon off an area in front of a mosque in the Noerrebro area of Copenhagen on Friday where far-right activist Rasmus Paludan planned to burn the Quran | AP

Turkey summoned the Danish ambassador on Friday over reports that an anti-Islam activist would be allowed to burn the Quran during a series of protests in Copenhagen.

Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, infuriated Turkey by staging a Quran-burning protest in Sweden on January 21. He told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that he would replicate the protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO. Reports said he would first burn the Quran outside a mosque in Copenhagen, then stage the same demonstration in front of the Turkish and Russian embassies.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said the Danish ambassador was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry where Turkish officials strongly condemned the permission given to this provocative act which clearly constitutes a hate crime.

The ambassador was told that Denmark's attitude is unacceptable and that Turkey expected the permission to be revoked, according to Anadolu.

Paludan's action last week caused fury in Turkey, which criticised Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration to take place outside the Turkish Embassy. Turkey's president cast serious doubt on NATO's expansion, warning Sweden not to expect support for its membership bid in the military alliance.

Turkey also indefinitely postponed a key meeting in Brussels that would have discussed Sweden and Finland's NATO membership, saying such a meeting would have been meaningless.

Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military non-alignment and applied for NATO membership after Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

NATO-member Turkey, which is pressing the two countries to crack down on Kurdish militants and other groups it considers terrorists, hasn't yet endorsed their accession, which requires unanimous approval from all existing alliance members.

A lawyer, Paludan established far-right parties in both Sweden and Denmark that have failed to win any seats in national, regional or municipal elections. In last year's parliamentary election in Sweden, his party received just 156 votes nationwide.

“This is Erdogan's fault. Now that he doesn't want to let Sweden into NATO, I have to teach him about freedom of speech until he does,” Paludan told Aftonbladet.


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