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Iran demands Sweden act against Koran burnings and free convicted prisoner

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Iran has demanded Sweden take action over Koran burnings before the two countries can exchange ambassadors again, and urged it to release a jailed Iranian citizen, the foreign ministry said Sunday.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian discussed the Koran issue with his Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the foreign ministry said.

“Regarding the exchange of ambassadors, we are waiting for good action on the issue of the Holy Koran in Sweden,” Iran’s top envoy told Billstrom in New York, the Iranian ministry said in a statement.

Sweden has seen a series of public burnings of the Islamic holy book. Stockholm has voiced condemnation but said it cannot stop acts protected under laws on free expression.
A demonstrator in Baghdad during a protest against the burning of a copy of the Koran and the Iraqi flag in the Swedish capital Stockholm. Photo: Reuters

Iran said in July it would not allow a new Swedish ambassador into the country after the mission of the last envoy ended.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi days ago held up a Koran at the UN rostrum and declared that “the fires of disrespect will not overcome the divine truth”, also condemning “Islamophobia and cultural apartheid” in the West.

Amir-Abdollahian told his Swedish counterpart that “defending the values of Sweden at the cost of ignoring the values of two billion Muslims in the world is unacceptable”.

Koran burning in Sweden angers Muslim world

He also urged Stockholm to release Hamid Noury, an Iranian arrested in November 2019 and sentenced to life in prison after being convicted over the mass executions of prisoners ordered by Tehran in 1988.

“We expect that the Swedish government will make a wise and courageous decision in the appeal stage and release Mr Noury”, the minister said, adding that “we are ready for positive and constructive cooperation in various fields”.

The statement did not address Swedish nationals incarcerated in Iran, including the EU diplomat Johan Floderus, 33, who has been detained for more than 500 days.

In July last year, Iran announced it had arrested a Swede on suspicion of espionage, and earlier this month Iran’s judiciary stated that the Swedish citizen had committed crimes Iran.

Another Iranian-Swedish citizen, the academic Ahmadreza Djalali, is at risk of being hanged after a conviction on the charge of “corruption on earth” in Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality.

He was sentenced to death in 2017 for allegedly spying for Israel, an accusation his family vehemently rejects.

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Muslims call for expulsion of Swedish ambassadors as tensions rise over Koran burnings

Muslims call for expulsion of Swedish ambassadors as tensions rise over Koran burnings

In May, Iran hanged another Swedish-Iranian, Habib Chaab, on a terrorism conviction, drawing strong condemnation from Sweden.

Chaab, an Iranian dissident, had been held in the Islamic republic since October 2020 after he vanished during a visit to Turkey.

Chaab had also been convicted of “corruption on earth” after being found guilty of heading a rebel group accused of staging attacks in Iran since 2005.

Iran executes more people yearly than any other nation except China, according to human rights groups including Amnesty International.

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