Türkiye condemns desecration of Qur’an in Netherlands

Türkiye’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it summoned the Dutch ambassador following the desecration of Islam’s holy book during a protest, days after a similar protest in Sweden tensed relations.

Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, on Sunday tore pages out of a copy of the Qur’an near the Dutch parliament and stomped on the pages. Police looked on but did not intervene, AP reported.

“It is about freedom of expression and I think that should be possible in the Netherlands,” Wagensveld said in a video posted on the site of Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in its statement that it condemned the “vile attack,” which it said was proof of Islamophobia, discrimination and xenophobia in Europe. The ministry told the Dutch ambassador they expected concrete precautions to prevent and not permit similar demonstrations in the future, and that authorities take action against Wagensveld.

Relations between Türkiye and the Netherlands were shattered in 2017 when Dutch authorities barred Turkish officials from campaigning for a referendum among the Turkish diaspora there. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan upped the ante by comparing the Dutch to Nazis, and ambassadors were withdrawn.

On Saturday, a far-right Swedish-Danish politician burned a copy of Qur’an outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. Türkiye strongly condemned the act and Sweden for allowing the demonstration, with Erdogan declaring Sweden shouldn’t expect Türkiye’s support for its NATO bid.

Erdogan slammed Rasmus Paludan’s move to burn Qur’an on Saturday, saying it was an insult to everyone, especially to Muslims. He was particularly incensed at Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration to take place outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm under “the protection” of security forces.

“It is clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan said in his first comments regarding the weekend protests, saying Sweden must have calculated the consequences of permitting Paludan’s demonstration.

The burning of Islam’s holy book angered people across the political spectrum in Türkiye, just as Sweden and Finland appeared on the cusp of NATO membership after dropping their longstanding policies of military nonalignment following war on Ukraine.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto suggested Tuesday that the country may consider joining NATO without neighboring Sweden if Türkiye continues to block their joint bid to enter the military alliance.