Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Criticism of Sweden
ADEM ALTAN / AFP
During an anti-Turkish demonstration in the Swedish capital Stockholm over the weekend, the head of a right-wing extremist party burned a copy of the Koran.
This could mean that Turkey will not agree to Sweden joining NATO.
At least that's what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is threatening to do.
Erdoğan condemned the Koran burning as an insult to everyone, especially Muslims.
He also criticized the Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
The Turkish president also criticized Sweden for pro-Kurdish protests, where demonstrators had waved flags of various Kurdish groups, including those of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The PKK is on the terrorist lists in Turkey, Europe and the USA.
“So you let terrorist organizations roam free and then expect our support in order to be accepted into NATO.
That won't happen," Erdoğan said, referring to Sweden's and Finland's bids to join the military alliance.
If Sweden doesn't show Turkey or Muslims any respect, "they won't get any support from us on the NATO question."
Turkey blocks NATO accession
NATO member Turkey has been blocking the admission of Sweden and Finland to the defense alliance for months.
Turkey in particular accuses Sweden of supporting "terrorist organizations" such as the banned Kurdish Workers' Party PKK and is demanding the extradition of a number of people whom Ankara regards as terrorists.
All 30 NATO members must ratify applications for NATO membership.
The burning of the Koran was a deliberate provocation.
The head of the extreme right-wing Danish party "Hard Line", Rasmus Paludan, who also has Swedish citizenship, set the Koran on fire near the Turkish embassy on Saturday.
Paludan had also held demonstrations in the past where he burned the Koran.
In the registration for his rally, which had been approved by the authorities, he stated that his protest was directed against Islam and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's attempt to influence freedom of expression in Sweden.
Turkey said the burning was an Islamophobic act directed against Muslims "and insulted our sacred values."
Allowing such a protest under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable.