The Stockholm Quran burning incident – Sweden’s NATO membership funded by a far-right journalist with links to Kremlin-backed media outlets.
The Bible was last Saturday, fires started near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm by far-right politician and anti-Islam agitator Rasmus Paludan, a dual Danish-Swedish citizen with a reputation for doing similar work.
Swedish media reported that Paludan’s SEK320 protest permit (£25, $31) was paid for by a former contributor to Kremlin-backed RT, Chang Frick, who regularly airs far-right media advertisements. Democrats in Sweden. Frick confirmed that he had paid the price for the permit to organize the protest, but denied asking anyone to burn the Muslim holy book.
This exploit sparked criticism across the Muslim world and deepened the confrontation with Turkey over Sweden’s attempt to join NATO, which requires the approval of all 30 member states. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in response to the burning of the book: “Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect us to support their NATO membership.”
Despite Sweden’s pleas to resume trilateral talks with Turkey and Finland, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that further talks would not make any sense. Also on Friday, Turkey summoned the Danish ambassador and accused Denmark of supporting a “hate crime”.
Paludan told local media that he carried out the operation because “some Swedes want me to burn a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy.” He confirmed in an interview with The InsiderFrick that he had paid for the permit to stage the demonstration, but claimed it was “not my idea” to burn the Muslims’ bible.
He also told the site that he was not working for him, Russia Today, later renamed RT, since 2014 has not supported Russia since the annexation of Crimea.
Frick, a former Sweden Democratic Party official, is the founder of a far-right website focused on immigration to Sweden. He speaks to The New York Times and in 2019 joked about his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As he pulled out a wad of ruble banknotes from his recent trip to Russia, he told the reporter, “Here’s my real boss! It’s Putin!”
Frick also has a regular program on the right-wing media channel the Sweden Democrats, which has a deal to support the three-party Swedish coalition, even though he is not in government.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said the anti-Islam provocations were appalling. Sweden has a lot of freedom of expression, but that doesn’t mean that the Swedish government, or I, endorse the opinions that are expressed. ”
Finland and Sweden started trilateral talks with Turkey last year aimed at overcoming Ankara’s doubts about joining NATO. The Swedish government has said yes to exactly what it promised to strengthen its anti-terrorism legislation, but Turkey is demanding more, including the extradition of 130 people it considers terrorists.