Ankara cancels Swedish defence chief's visit over Quran burning

Ankara has cancelled Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson's upcoming visit to Türkiye in response to Sweden's permission for a planned burning of the Quran, Islam's holy book, near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

"We regretfully witnessed that no measures were taken as a result of these vile and heinous acts against Türkiye and our President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan). Therefore, at this point, the visit of Swedish Defence Minister Jonson to Türkiye on January 27 has become meaningless. So we cancelled the visit," Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters on Friday after a NATO meeting at Ramstein air base in Germany.

The move announced by Akar came after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), was given permission to burn the Quran on Saturday outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said he was concerned that the demonstration risks further delaying Türkiye's ratification of Sweden's NATO bid.

However, he added that it would be "very inappropriate" for him to call for a person to not be allowed to carry out a demonstration.

Akar said it was unacceptable to remain silent over the incident, adding: "It was necessary to take action and take precautions."

Stressing Türkiye's support for NATO's open door policy, Akar added: "All we want is the fulfilment of the commitments in this memorandum. We expect Sweden and Finland to do their part, their homework."

Türkiye's presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin also posted on Twitter that the burning of the Holy Quran in Stockholm is a "hate crime and a crime against humanity".

"Allowing this action despite all our warnings encourages hate crimes and Islamophobia. The attack on sacred values is not freedom, but modern barbarism,” he added.

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