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Swedish anti-Islam protest intensifies opposition to joining NATO

Swedish anti-Islam protest intensifies opposition to joining NATO

ISTANBUL: On account of a rally by an anti-Islamic extremist in Stockholm, Turkiye on Saturday postponed the Swedish defence minister’s visit, igniting a new controversy over Ankara’s opposition to Sweden’s application to join the Nato military alliance.

Right-wing Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan was given permission to demonstrate in front of Turkey’s embassy in the Swedish capital, and Turkish officials criticised this decision. After a diatribe of almost an hour in which he attacked Islam and immigration in Sweden, Paludan set fire to the Holy Quran with a lighter. “If you don’t think there should be freedom of expression, you have to live somewhere else,” he told the crowd.

Ankara announced that it had cancelled the visit by Defence Minister Pal Jonson scheduled for January 27 in order to assuage Turkiye’s concerns about Sweden’s Nato proposal, a day after recalling the Swedish ambassador over Paludan’s most recent demonstration. Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar stated that the meeting “has lost its significance and meaning” and that it has been cancelled.