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Sweden tells citizens to avoid crowds in Turkey after Koran burning

STOCKHOLM, Jan 28 (Reuters) – The Swedish Foreign Ministry on Saturday warned Swedes in Turkey to avoid crowds and demonstrations following protests against a far-right politician’s burning of the Koran in Stockholm last week.

Last week, Turkey suspended talks with Sweden and Finland over their NATO membership bids after a protest during which Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right Hard Line political party, burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Paludan’s actions led to demonstrations in a number of Muslim countries, as well as in Turkey.

“Swedes in Turkey are asked to keep abreast of developments and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on the advice page for Swedes abroad.

“We can expect more demonstrations outside the embassy in Ankara and the consulate general in Istanbul in the coming days.”

Following Paludan’s protest, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he supported freedom of speech.

“But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are sacred to many is a highly disrespectful act,” Kristersson tweeted.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They need the support of all 30 members of the Alliance. Turkey said Sweden in particular should first take a clearer stance on what it considers terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it accuses of a 2016 coup attempt, in order to support the membership of the two Nordic countries in NATO.

Reporting by Simon Johnson, editing by Angus McSwan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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