Swedish security service warns of increased terror threats after Quran burnings

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 8 Feb, 2023 Updated Wed 8 Feb 2023 15:55 CEST
Swedish security service warns of increased terror threats after Quran burnings
Danish police secure the area in front of the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen on January 27th. Swedish authorities say Sweden is under increased threat following a far-right activist’s burning of the Quran in Stockholm. The same activist has also burned the Quran in Copenhagen. Photo: Sergei Gapon/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

Sweden is the target of an increased number of threats against the country following far-right activist Rasmus Paludan's burning of the Quran in Stockholm according to Säpo, the Swedish Security Service. Paludan has also recently burned the Quran at demonstrations in Copenhagen.


“Recent developments with threats directed at Sweden and Swedish interests is serious and affect Sweden’s security. The security service is seeing an increase in the number of threats of attack in our intelligence flow,” read a statement by Säpo on Wednesday.

It comes two days after the US embassy advised its citizens in Sweden to use caution in busy public venues, gathering sites such as places of worship, and diplomatic facilities, warning of possible terror attacks in retaliation of the recent Quran burning incident.


Far-right activist Paludan, who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenships, last month burned the holy book of Islam outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, causing Turkey to suspend NATO talks with Sweden and Finland and provoking outrage and demonstrations in many Muslim countries.

At the end of January, Paludan said he plans to burn a Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Turkey agrees to Sweden joining NATO. He has followed up on that plan in each of the last two weeks.

On January 27th, Turkey summoned the Danish ambassador in Ankara to protest Denmark’s “unacceptable” attitude towards Paludan’s actions.

More than half of Danes responding to a survey last week said they were in favour of banning far-right activist Paludan’s Quran-burning demonstrations in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen, due to national security concerns.

Some 56 percent answered in the survey that they “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement that Paludan should be banned from burning the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy due to concerns over Denmark’s security.


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 and disruption in January of the Swedish bid to join NATO.

Säpo said that the reactions after, among other things, the latest Quran burning, had been “significant” – especially in light of deteriorating global security and incidents such as last year’s disinformation campaign against the Swedish social services.

It said it considered Sweden to be “in greater focus than before for global violent Islamism”, adding that “the situation after recent events is problematic”.

Sweden’s terror threat level remains at three on a five-point scale, where it has been since 2010, with the exception of a period in 2015 when it was briefly raised to four.

“The terror threat level is based on a long-term assessment, which means that if this development continues for some time, the terror threat level may be raised,” said Säpo.


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