Demonstrators breached the perimeter of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad Thursday, a day after a protester burned a copy of the Quran in Sweden.
The protests in the Iraqi capital were ordered by the powerful Iraqi Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who also called for the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador in Baghdad.
Videos circulating on social media showed some protesters climbing over a barricaded wall outside the embassy. It is unclear how far into the building they got, before withdrawing.
Sweden said its staff were safe. “We are well informed about the situation. Our Embassy staff are in safety and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is in regular contact with them,” the Swedish foreign ministry’s press office told CNN in an email.
An Iraqi security source confirmed to CNN that the incident was over. The AFP news agency reported that the protestors were inside the compound for about 15 minutes.
The protests in Baghdad came after an incident in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, on Wednesday, when a man burned a copy of Islam’s holy book outside a mosque. Images of the event showed he was the only person apart from his translator at the demonstration, which coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, one of the most significant in the Islamic calendar.
Al Sadr demanded authorities withdraw the Iraqi nationality of Salwan Momika – the organizer of the one-man Quran protest in Stockholm – who immigrated to left Iraq for Sweden five years ago.
“If freedom of speech is guaranteed to Iraq and the world, then the believers have to express their views on the burning of the holy books… through massive angry protests against the Swedish embassy in Iraq,” Al Sadr said.
Muslim countries and Islamic organizations had condemned the burning of the Quran in Stockholm. Iran called the act “provocative” and Kuwait said it’s a “dangerous provocatory step”.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], the Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council all separately expressed strong condemnation to the event.
On Wednesday, Morocco recalled its ambassador to Sweden and both Iraq and Saudi Arabia strongly condemned the act. On Thursday, the United Arab Emirates summoned Sweden’s ambassador to Abu Dhabi to protest the Quran burning incident, the UAE’s state news agency WAM said.
In January early this year Iraqi protesters clashed with security forces outside the Swedish embassy for a separate incident of Quran burning in Stockholm.
Journalist Aqeel Najim in Baghdad contributed to this story.