Protestor Salwan Momika raises a copy of the Koran during his demonstration outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, 20 July 2023. EPA-EFE/Oscar Olsson


Swedish court delays expulsion of Iraq-born Quran-burning protester


A court has delayed the expulsion of Iraq-born Salwan Momika, who took part in several Quran-burning protests in Sweden and is facing deportation for providing false information in his asylum application.

The deportation order, which followed the revoking his residency status and the imposition of a five-year entry ban, has been suspended due to concerns about the potential life-threatening risks he may face upon return to Iraq.

According to Swedish broadcaster TV4, the deportation judgment was made after the country’s Migration Agency determined he had supplied “misleading” information in his asylum application.

While the Iraqi claimed to immigration authorities that he was an Iraqi politician, SVT TV reported that photos of him from Iraq were discovered in which he was depicted with weapons in military settings, among other things.

Momika was granted a temporary residency permit for the period October 25, 2023 to April 16, 2024. The Migration Agency told TV4 that he will be deported when the permit expires.

According to an agency official, a deportation order had been handed down but was put on hold for security reasons on October 26.

Agency spokesman Jesper Tengro reaffirmed that the order had been given. “The decision was made yesterday and means that this person’s status and residence permit will be revoked and that he will be deported,” he said.

In a reaction to the decision, Momika, who indicated he was not intending to leave, said he would protest in front of the Turkish embassy and burn a Turkish flag and a copy of the Quran.

He said he believed the decision to remove him from Sweden was inspired by political motives, under pressure from Turkey and Iraq.

He grimly concluded: “If I die, I will die proudly.”

Momika, who counts himself among his home country’s Christian minority, has carried out several Quran burnings in the past few months. He is allowed to do so based on Sweden’s freedom-of-speech laws.

Nevertheless, his actions caused outrage among Muslims in Sweden and across the globe.

This caused a series of problems for the Scandinavian country. Its embassy in Iraq has been attacked twice, while Turkey has blocked Sweden’s ascension into NATO. Swedish police were also forced to raise the nation’s terror alert level.

Locally, there were a string of violent riots and mass protests against the burning of the Islamic holy book.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson expressed his deep concern regarding growing Muslim anger about the ongoing rise in requests for burnings of the Quran in his country.

He said there was a “clear risk of something serious to happen” and that he was “extremely worried”.

In August, the terror alert was raised in Sweden over the growing tensions. Officials also believe that the terror attack in Brussels this month, in which two Swedes were shot dead by an Islamic extremist, was at least partly inspired by the Quran burnings in the country.