Numerous protestors assaulted the Swedish embassy in central Baghdad early on Thursday morning, climbed its walls, and set it on fire in protest of the intended burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden.
In a statement denouncing the incident and emphasizing the necessity for Iraqi authorities to safeguard diplomatic missions, the Swedish foreign ministry press office stated that all embassy personnel in Baghdad were safe.
According to posts in a prominent Telegram channel connected to the powerful cleric and other pro-Sadr media, the rally on Thursday was called by adherents of the cleric Muqtada Sadr to oppose the second planned Quran burning in Sweden in recent weeks.
One of the most influential individuals in Iraq, Sadr commands hundreds of thousands of supporters, many of whom he has summoned to the streets at various times, most recently last summer when they invaded Baghdad’s heavily protected Green Zone and engaged in violent fighting.
Swedish news outlet TT reported on Wednesday that Swedish police had approved a request for a public gathering to take place Thursday outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm.
According to the application, the applicant wants to burn the Iraqi flag and the Quran, TT reported.
People were seen assembling outside the embassy at around one in the morning on Thursday (2200 GMT on Wednesday), screaming pro-Sadr slogans, then assaulting the embassy facility about one hour later, according to a series of videos provided to the Telegram group One Baghdad.
The Quran, yes, yes, the demonstrators shouted.
Later videos showed demonstrators standing on the roof of a building within the embassy complex as smoke rose from it. The validity of the videos could not be independently confirmed by Reuters.
The event was denounced by the foreign ministry of Iraq, which also said in a statement that the Iraqi government had given security forces orders to conduct a prompt investigation, find the culprits, and hold them accountable.
Security personnel had been stationed inside the embassy by Thursday’s daybreak, and smoke was rising from the structure while firefighters put out recalcitrant embers, according to witnesses interviewed by Reuters.
A few dozen protestors were still loitering outside the embassy after the majority of them had left.
After an Iraqi man burned the Quran in Stockholm late last month, Sadr called for protests against Sweden and the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador.