DUBAI/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that those who violate the Koran should face the “severe punishment” and that Sweden had “entered a battle for war on the Islamic world” by supporting officials.
Protests erupted across Iran and Iraq after Sweden allowed the burning of the Quran under rules protecting freedom of expression. Protesters in Iraq set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on Thursday.
An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden burned a Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm last month. Reuters witnesses said protesters in Sweden kicked and partially destroyed a book they said was a Koran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday, but did not burn it as threatened.
Swedish officials deplored these actions but said they could not prevent them.
Iranian state media reported that Khamenei demanded that Sweden hand over those responsible for prosecution in Islamic countries.
“All Islamic scholars agree that whoever defiles the Qur’an deserves the severest punishment,” Khamenei said in a statement carried by state media. “It is the duty of that (Swedish) government to hand over the culprit to the judicial systems of Islamic countries.”
Iran, which has delayed the appointment of a new ambassador to Sweden, said it would not accept a new Swedish envoy.
Khamenei later tweeted: “The Swedish government should know that by supporting the criminal who burned the Holy Quran, it has entered into a battlefield of war against the Islamic world.”
“They have created feelings of hatred and hostility towards them in all Muslim countries and many of their governments,” he said.
A representative of the Swedish government could not be reached for comment.
Covering by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai and Subanta Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Jason Neely and Nick McPhee
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