A woman has been detained by Swedish police after using a fire extinguisher to spray an anti-Islam activist, Salwan Momika, during his Quran-burning demonstration near the Iranian embassy in Stockholm. In a video, the woman approaches Momika and sprays white powder at him before plainclothes officers intervene. Despite this, Momika, a refugee from Iraq, resumes his authorised protest. Police spokesperson Towe Hagg revealed the woman was apprehended for disturbing public order and assaulting a police officer. Momika’s series of anti-Islam protests involving Quran desecration have stirred controversy in Muslim countries. Swedish authorities allowed his demonstrations, despite filing preliminary hate speech charges against him. Prosecutors are examining whether Momika’s actions align with Sweden’s hate speech law, which prohibits inciting hatred against specific groups or individuals based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. Momika asserts that his protests target Islam, not Muslims.
These Quran-burning acts have incited protests in Muslim nations, resulted in attacks on Swedish diplomatic missions, and generated threats. In response, Sweden heightened its terrorism alert to the second-highest level due to increased security concerns. According to witnesses most of these burnings often conclude without incident. Counter-protesters have grown in number, including a group dressed as firefighters advocating against hate.
Momika asserts his right to freedom of speech in Sweden. Meanwhile, Swedish Muslim leaders have called on the government to find ways to prevent these burnings. Although Sweden abolished blasphemy laws in the 1970s and has no intention to reintroduce them, the government recently announced an inquiry into enabling police to deny permits for demonstrations tied to national security concerns. This inquiry draws inspiration from similar legislation in countries like France, Norway, and the Netherlands that combine freedom of speech with considerations of security.