Hundreds try to storm Baghdad’s green zone over Koran burning | Religion news

Demonstrators gather after reports that the far-right Danish group Danske Patrioter burned the Koran in Copenhagen.

Hundreds of people in Baghdad have tried to storm the city’s Green Zone, a heavily fortified area that houses a number of foreign embassies and the seat of Iraq’s government.

Nearly 1,000 protesters were dispersed by security forces early Saturday in response to reports of a Koran burning that took place a day earlier by a far-right group in front of the Iraqi embassy in Denmark.

Demonstrators chanted in support of influential Iraqi Shiite religious and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, with pictures of the leader and flags associated with his movement alongside the Iraqi flag.

“Yes, yes to the Koran!” shouted the protesters, many of them young men.

Security forces blocked the Jumhuriya bridge leading to the Green Zone, preventing the protesters from reaching the Danish embassy.

Another protest is planned for later in the day.

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr protest in Tahrir Square near Baghdad’s Green Zone (Murtaja Lateef/AFP)

According to Danish media reports, the far-right, ultra-nationalist group Danske Patrioter burned a copy of the Koran and an Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen and live-streamed the event on Facebook.

In response to the incident in Copenhagen, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs “condemned in strong and repeated terms the incident of assault against the Holy Quran and the flag of the Republic of Iraq in front of the Iraqi embassy in Denmark”, in a statement on Saturday.

The government called on the international community “to urgently and responsibly face these atrocities that violate social peace and coexistence around the world”.

A separate statement said, “We cannot allow it to happen again” of what happened at the Swedish embassy, ​​the AFP news agency reported.

The Iraqi government reaffirmed its “full commitment” to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, saying it guarantees “the protection and security of diplomatic teams”.

In a separate incident, protesters set fire to the headquarters of the humanitarian organization Danish Refugee Council in the Basrah governorate of Iraq, according to reports from local media and Sky News.

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr carry his portrait as they protest near Baghdad’s Green Zone (Murtaja Lateef/AFP)

The incidents come two days after Iraqis began storming and burning the Swedish embassy in Baghdad after another event was held to desecrate the Koran in Sweden. The embassy was forced to temporarily move to Stockholm after the violence.

Iraq’s prime minister severed diplomatic ties with Sweden in protest at the desecration, which also sparked action and condemnation from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East.

The Swedish incident was carried out by Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Christian Iraqi refugee in Sweden, who also burned pages of a Koran on June 28, the earlier incident also led to mass protests in Iraq and condemnation from Muslim-majority countries.

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