Danish foreign minister says relationship with Turkey ‘good’ amid new Quran burnings

The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Friday that the country’s ambassador to Turkey had been summoned by Ankara.

Danish foreign minister says relationship with Turkey ‘good’ amid new Quran burnings
Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at an EU meeting in Brussels on January 23rd. Rasmussen said on January 27th that Denmark has a "good" relationship with Turkey amid ongoing burnings of the Quran by a far-right extremist in Copenhagen. Photo: Johanna Geron/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen issued a comment after the Danish foreign ministry confirmed the matter to news wire Ritzau.

“Denmark has a good relationship with Turkey and this matter does not change that,” Rasmussen said in a written comment in reference to an ongoing series of Quran burnings led by far-right extremist Rasmus Paludan, which on Friday moved to Copenhagen after similar incidents in Sweden.

Paludan has said he plans to burn the Islamic holy book in three separate locations in the Danish capital on Friday, including in front of the Turkish embassy.

A Turkish diplomatic source told news wire AFP the Danish ambassador was summoned to protest Denmark’s “unacceptable” attitude towards Paludan’s actions.

“We strongly condemn the decision to grant permission for this provocative act, which clearly constitutes a hate crime,” the Turkish diplomatic source told reporters.

Summoning an ambassador is seen as a significant diplomatic gesture which can express a strong signal to the country represented by the ambassador.

“Our job now is to speak with Turkey about what the conditions are in Denmark with our open democracy and that there are differences between Denmark as a country – and our people, for that matter – and an individual person who has strongly divergent views,” Rasmussen said.

Far-right provocateur Paludan came to prominence in Denmark in the late 2010s through his anti-Islam demonstrations in areas with sizeable minority ethnic communities. The main feature of the demonstrations is the burning and desecration of the Quran.

He has a conviction for inciting racial hatred, upheld in 2019 by a Danish high court, and failed in a bid to be elected to the country’s parliament in the same year.

After being granted Swedish citizenship through his father’s nationality he moved his demonstrations to Sweden, resulting in violent riots in April 2022.

READ ALSO: OPINION: ‘Police should have stopped Quran-burning demos after the first day’

On Saturday, Paludan set fire to a copy of the Quran in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm, raising tensions as Sweden courts Ankara over its bid to join Nato.

The desecration of the Quran sparked strong protests from Ankara and furious demonstrations in several capitals of the Muslim world including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has condemned Paludan’s actions as “deeply disrespectful”, while the United States called it “repugnant”.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday said the burning was the work of “a provocateur” who “may have deliberately sought to put distance between two close partners of ours – Turkey and Sweden”.

Paludan’s demonstrations in Denmark have provoked angry and sometimes violent responses from minority communities and require a heavy police presence. The demonstrations are permitted under Denmark’s laws and constitution, which protects free speech and the right to gather in public.

Paludan told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on Thursday that he intended to burn the Quran in three locations in Copenhagen on Friday: outside a mosque and in front of the Turkish and Russian embassies.

He set light to a Quran outside a mosque in Copenhagen’s Nordvest neighbourhood at around 1pm on Friday, Ritzau reported. The area has a large number of residents with minority backgrounds.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Denmark detains Russian ship off Skagen in legal dispute

Danish authorities have detained a Russian research vessel in the northern port of Skagen as part of a legal dispute with a Canadian company, the Russian embassy in Denmark said Thursday.

Skagen harbour earlier this year. Denmark on November 4th detained a Russian research vessel at the northern port.
Skagen harbour earlier this year. Denmark on November 4th detained a Russian research vessel at the northern port. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The state-owned Akademik Ioffe, which belongs to Russia’s Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, was detained on Monday and its documents seized, the embassy said in a statement.

“The arrest of the vessel was carried out as an interim measure in a third-party claim,” the embassy said, without providing further details. 

News agency TASS quoted the embassy saying there were 38 crew and 23 scientists on board.

“The lawsuit was launched by Canadian company One Ocean Expeditions Ltd. in connection with the previous commercial activities of the Akademik Ioffe,” TASS quoted embassy attache Maria Syrovatko as saying.

One Ocean Expeditions, an adventure travel company based in Canada’s western province of British Columbia, said in a 2019 statement on its website that it had begun chartering the Akademik Ioffe and another Russian research vessel for passenger trips in the early 2010s.

But the ships were “suddenly and unexpectedly withdrawn” from passenger service in 2019, in what it said was a breach of contract.

Canadian media reported that the Akademik Ioffe ran aground in August 2018 in the northern territory of Nunavut while chartered by One Ocean Expeditions and its more than 160 passengers and crew had to be rescued by the military and coast guard.