Permit to burn Torah scroll showcases the Israel-Sweden relationship

Opinion: Even though the Torah scroll wasn't burned, the ease with which the act was approved pinpoints the kind of relationship Israel and Sweden have

Smadar Perry|
Sometimes a canceled political event teaches us a lot about the relationship between two countries and the biggest surprise comes in the form of a solid positive stance by the Islamic Federation in Sweden, which goes against its government to support Israel.
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It wasn't just the President, Prime Minister, the Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem, and the Israeli embassy in Stockholm who expressed joy, rejoiced, and strongly condemned the strange and provocative permit granted by the Swedish government to protest and burn a Torah scroll in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm.
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מול שגרירות ישראל בשבדיה: נערכים להצית ספר תורה
מול שגרירות ישראל בשבדיה: נערכים להצית ספר תורה
Protestor holds a Torah scroll in front of the Israeli embassy
(Photo: Zeev Avrahami)
Taher Akan, Chairman of the Swedish Islamic Federation, particularly criticized the provocative permit. The Swedish Muslim organization urged to understand what is the connection between burning the Quran last month in front of the grand mosque in Sweden and the permit to burn a Torah scroll in front of the Israeli embassy. It should be emphasized that Israel officially condemned the burning of the Quran, while it seems that the Swedish government granted permission for the Torah burning to appease the Muslims.
It is important to elucidate: On Saturday afternoon, the protester announced that he regretted his decision and decided not to burn the Torah scroll. He attempted to justify it by saying, "I just wanted to test if there is intellectual freedom." However, the process did not go smoothly. President Isaac Herzog not only condemned the burning of the Quran but also referred to the act as "antisemitism," emphasizing that there is no connection between expressing political opinions and burning the Torah, even with a permit.
The protester, an immigrant from an Arab country, actually intended to protest against the burning of the Quran by an Iraqi Christian protester Salwan Momika. Iran and Hezbollah were quick to add that Momika was recruited and operated by the Israeli intelligence agency.
The ease with which the Swedish Interior Ministry granted permission for the burning of the Torah raises questions. Was it not just a moment before Sweden boasted an improvement in relations with Israel?
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פעיל במהלך הפגנה שבה הצית שרף קוראן מולך מסגד ב שטוקהולם שבדיה
פעיל במהלך הפגנה שבה הצית שרף קוראן מולך מסגד ב שטוקהולם שבדיה
Salwan Momika before he burns the Quran
(Photo: AFP)
Truth be told, it is hard to imagine that even in our country when the people are divided and polarized, such a decision to burn the sacred book of Muslims would be approved with such ease. Neither the New Testament nor the Quran is burned in a civilized country like Sweden, and certainly not a Torah scroll in front of Israeli diplomats at the embassy.
That same Momika who burned the Quran, after receiving approval, was the head of a terrorist organization in Iraq and was forced to flee after a conflict with the leader of a rival group who threatened his life and by his outrageous act was sending a message. But what does that have to do with Israel?
The Foreign Ministry in Stockhold denied they had anything to do with the permit. "It wasn't us at all," they told Israel's ambassador to Sweden, Ziv Nevo Kulman. "We are trying to correct the mistake, but it will take time," Foreign Minister Tobias Holmström said in a surprising statement. While the police spokesperson already changed her version and announced, "We did not grant the protester permission to burn holy books, only to express a political opinion."
The Swedish Islamic Federation deserves praise and criticism should be directed towards the Stockholm government, which attempted three times to backtrack, each time with a different excuse. Despite claims made by the Swedish Foreign Minister to his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, that his government hoped to improve relations with Jerusalem, this latest incident proves there is still much work to be done.
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