Updated July 7th, 2023 at 14:09 IST

Baghdad issues arrest warrant for Iraqi-born refugee who burned Quran in Sweden

Iran has sent an arrest warrant to Interpol for Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi-born refugee in Sweden, who burned a Quran in Stockholm late June.

Reported by: Digital Desk
A demonstrator holds up a copy of the Quran, Islam's holy book, during a protest of the burning of a Quran in Sweden, in front of the Swedish Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 30, 2023 | Image: AP | Image:self

An arrest warrant for Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi-born refugee residing in Sweden, has been forwarded by Iraq's prosecutor general's office to the International Criminal Police Organization. This action comes in response to Salwan Momika's act of burning a Quran in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, which occurred in late June, Iraqi media reported Thursday, citing the country's Supreme Judicial Council.

According to the council's statement, the prosecutor's office has provided an information sheet and a specific arrest warrant for Momika. Furthermore, they have urged Interpol to inform Baghdad if he is apprehended.

According to a Iraqi security official who spoke to AP, the individual involved in the incident was identified as an Iraqi Christian who had previously served in a Christian unit of the Popular Mobilisation Forces. The Popular Mobilisation Forces consist predominantly of Shiite militias that were integrated into Iraq's armed forces in 2016.

During the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on June 28, a protest occurred outside Stockholm's primary mosque, where a Quran was burned. The Swedish police granted permission for the demonstration, although Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson subsequently remarked that while the permit was "lawful," it was deemed inappropriate.

The act of desecrating and burning the Quran in Stockholm has elicited widespread condemnation globally. The incident has garnered condemnation from numerous heads of state, as well as the Secretary General of the Arab League and the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In response, Iraq has appealed to the Swedish authorities, urging them to extradite the immigrant accountable for the incident.

In a similar incident that occurred in January, a demonstration took place in Sweden where Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burned the Muslim holy book in front of the Turkish embassy.

Protesters storm Swedish Embassy in Baghdad

Hundreds of followers of the influential Iraqi Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada Sadr briefly stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad on June 29 in protest of the burning.

The Iraqi security official who spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity said that the Swedish Embassy was evacuated by security forces after protesters managed to enter the building. The protesters displayed images of Sadr and flags representing his militia, the Mahdi Army. 

Some of the protesters also burned rainbow flags, a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride. Iraqi officials didn't make any public statement on the storming of the embassy.


Published July 7th, 2023 at 14:09 IST