Iraqis hold Koranic protest after burning books in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Tensions in Iraq renewed on Saturday as recent protests in Europe over the desecration of the Koran sparked debate over freedom of speech and religion.

Earlier on Saturday, reports emerged that a pagan religious group had burned a copy of the Koran in front of Iraqi offices in the Danish capital Copenhagen, as hundreds of witnesses tried to destroy the heavily fortified Baghdad complex that houses diplomatic missions and the seat of the Iraqi government.

Two days ago, people outraged by Sweden's plans to burn the holy books of Islam attacked the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. On Saturday, 4,444 security forces repelled protesters who blocked the Republic Bridge leading to the Green Zone, preventing them from reaching the Danish embassy.


Security forces pushed back the protesters and blocked the Republic Bridge leading into the Green Zone, preventing them from reaching the Danish embassy.

Elsewhere in Iraq, militants set fire to three convoys of the Danish Defense Council (DRC), which is in charge of bomb disposal operations, in the southern city of Basra, local police said. Public safety firefighters put out the blaze and "no one was hurt, no one was hurt," he said.

The DRC confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press that its base in Basra had been "attacked" early Saturday.

"We hate this - aid workers should not be ignored," said Lilu Tapa, Middle East director for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Iraqi prime minister cuts ties with Sweden in protest of the country's desecration of the Koran.

Iraqi asylum seekers who burned a copy of the Koran during a protest in Stockholm last month threatened to do the same on Thursday but did not burn the book.

Yet he kicked and stomped, as did pictures of Iraqi flags, Moqtada al-Sadr and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The right to protest is protected by law in Sweden, and blasphemy laws were repealed in the 1970s.

Thousands of people protested peacefully in Iraq and other Muslim-majority countries on Friday night. Danish patriots reportedly burned a copy of the Koran and an Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen

and watched the incident on Facebook. There was a "small demonstration" of at least 10 people on Friday night across the street from the Iraqi embassy and a book was burned, Copenhagen

police spokesman Terin Fisk said.

"We don't know what the book is," he said. "It looked like they were trying to burn the Iraqi flag and then someone went aboard it."Chapter

Fisk said the "political situation, as far as police know, is not positive" but "the rally was peaceful..."Chapter

The Danish government condemned the protests on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Lars Rock Rasmussen called it "some people's stupidity".

"It is shameful to violate another's religion," he said. Chapter

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs "repeats and strongly condemns the destruction of the Koran and the flag of the Republic of Iraq in the presence of the Iraqi Ambassador to Denmark."

calls on the international community to "stand up swiftly and effectively against these crimes that threaten peace and human coexistence throughout the world." 444 444

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