STOCKHOLM, July 6 (Reuters) – (This July 6 story has been refiled to say that Sweden government is considering changing the law to allow police to stop Koran burnings in public, not making it illegal to burn the book in public or in private)
The Swedish government is examining whether it could change the law to stop people setting the Koran on fire in public, as recent burnings of the Muslim holy book have damaged Sweden’s security, Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer told Aftonbladet paper on Thursday.
An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden burned the Koran outside a Stockholm mosque last week, causing outrage in the Muslim world and condemnation from the pope. The Swedish Security services said such action left the country less safe.
The police denied several applications earlier this year for protests that were set to include burning the Koran, citing security concerns, but courts have since overturned the police’s decisions, saying such acts are protected by Sweden’s far-reaching freedom of speech laws.
Sweden’s minister of justice said on Thursday that the government is analysing the situation and whether the law needs to be changed to allow the police to deny such requests.
“We have to ask ourselves whether the current order is good or whether there is reason to reconsider it,” Strommer told Aftonbladet.
He added that Sweden had become a “prioritized target” for attacks.
“We can see that the Koran burning last week has generated threats to our internal security,” he said.
The incident has also damaged Sweden’s bid to join NATO, with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan saying his country cannot ratify Sweden’s application before Koran burnings are stopped.