Quran desecration: ‘Speech freedom champion’ Sweden tightens terror alert fearing backlash


A police officer on a Segway patrol at Sweden´s parliament Riksdagen as the terror threat level in Sweden was raised to four on a five-point scale on August 17, 2023, following recent Koran burnings.—AFP
A police officer on a Segway patrol at Sweden´s parliament Riksdagen as the terror threat level in Sweden was raised to four on a five-point scale on August 17, 2023, following recent Koran burnings.—AFP 

Following a series of incidents involving the desecration of the Holy Quran, which hurt the religious feelings of Muslims all over the world, Sweden Thursday raised its terror alert to the second-highest level.

The nation’s national security service has sounded the alarm, cautioning that the potential for attacks remains significant, driven by the desecrations that have incited outrage within the Muslim community.

Recent months have witnessed anti-Islam activists carrying out acts of burning and defacement of multiple copies of the Quran. These actions have rippled beyond Sweden’s borders, evoking concerns in Denmark as well.

The resulting tension has prompted both nations to intensify their border controls in anticipation of potential responses from individuals deeply affected by these events.

The SAPO security service in Sweden has taken a definitive stance, elevating its warning level from 3 to 4 on a threat scale ranging from 1 to 5. This adjustment signifies a substantial “high threat” that necessitates careful attention.

The shift is emblematic of the transition from Sweden being merely a potential target for terrorism to being classified as a prioritized target. In a recent news conference, SAPO’s leader, Charlotte von Essen, highlighted the increased menace posed by “violent Islamist actors,” underscoring an alarming escalation in the past year.

Global repercussions have ensued, with both Britain and the United States advising their citizens against travelling to Sweden due to the possibility of terrorist activities.

This advisory is particularly pertinent given the ongoing protests not only within Sweden but also in neighbouring Denmark. Both nations, known for upholding liberal values and fostering open dialogue, are navigating the complexities of protecting freedom of expression while safeguarding against acts that deeply offend faith communities.

This heightened alert inevitably draws comparisons to Sweden’s history, notably the 2017 terrorist attack where an individual affiliated with the Islamic State carried out a vehicular assault that claimed five lives.

As Sweden grapples with the evolving situation, the escalated alert serves as a poignant reminder of the paramount importance of unwavering vigilance and proactive security measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the nation and its populace.



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