Russia may be linked to Quran burning in Sweden, says Finnish FM Pekka Haavisto
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has claimed that Russia may have been behind the burning of Quran in Sweden last week and said that the stunt could have been orchestrated to derail the country’s bid to join NATO
New Delhi: Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has claimed that Russia may have been behind the public burning of Quran in Sweden last week and said that the stunt could have been orchestrated to derail the country’s bid to join NATO.
“This matter is under investigation. Various ties in the activist’s circle have been uncovered. I cannot say with certainty … But we have been shown a concept of how to act in order to inflict maximum damage (to the NATO membership bid),” Russia Today quoted Haavisto as saying to Finnish TV channel Yle on Saturday.
Earlier this month, Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist from Denmark, received permission from police to stage a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm where he burned the Quran. Days later, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Quran near the Dutch Parliament and stomped on them.
The moves angered millions of Muslims around the world and triggered protests.
On Friday, Paludan, who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that he would replicate the protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO.
Another report in Guardian claimed that the Quran-burning incident in Stockholm that threatens Sweden’s bid to join Nato was funded by a far-right journalist with links to Kremlin-backed media.
According to the report, Swedish media have reported that Paludan’s demonstration permit of 320 Swedish krona (£25, $31) was paid for by a former contributor to the Kremlin-backed channel RT, Chang Frick, who now does regular media spots for the far right Sweden Democrats. Frick has confirmed he paid for the permit to hold the protest, but denied he had asked anyone to burn the Muslim holy book.
The exploit has sparked criticism across the Islamic world and deepened a stand off with Turkey over Sweden’s bid to join Nato, which requires the approval of all 30 member countries.
With inputs from agencies
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