Swedish embassy in Baghdad stormed, set alight: Source, witness

Hundreds of protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in the early hours of Thursday morning and set it on fire, a source familiar with the matter and a Reuters witness said, in a protest against the expected burning of a Quran in Sweden.

The source said no embassy staff had been harmed and declined to elaborate further. Swedish embassy officials in Baghdad did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson declined to comment.

Thursday’s protest was called by supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr, according to posts in a popular Telegram group linked the influential cleric and other pro-Sadr media.

A series of videos posted to the Telegram group, One Baghdad, showed people gathering around the embassy around 1 a.m. on Thursday (2200 GMT on Wednesday) chanting pro-Sadr slogans and storming the embassy complex around an hour later.

Videos later showed smoke rising from a building in the embassy complex. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was inside the embassy at the time of the storming.

Media have reported police in Stockholm have granted approval for a protest outside the Iraq embassy where another Quran burning demonstration is planned.

Late last month, Sadr called for protests against Sweden and the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador after an Iraqi man burned a Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm.

Two major protests took place outside of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in the aftermath of that Quran burning, with protesters breaching the embassy grounds on one occasion but not entering the embassy building itself.

The government of several Muslim countries, including Iraq, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco issued protests about the incident.

The United States also condemned it, but added that issuing the permit supported freedom of expression and was not an endorsement of the action.

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