ISLAMABAD (AP) — Muslims in Pakistan were holding rallies on Friday to observe a “Day of the Sanctity of Quran” after the South Asian Islamic nation’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued a call for anti-Sweden protests over last week’s burning of the Islamic holy book in Stockholm. The biggest anti-Sweden rallies were expected in the
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Muslims in Pakistan were holding rallies on Friday to observe a “Day of the Sanctity of Quran” after the South Asian Islamic nation’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued a call for anti-Sweden protests over last week’s burning of the Islamic holy book in Stockholm.
The biggest anti-Sweden rallies were expected in the eastern city of Lahore and in Karachi, the largest city in the country. In the capital, Islamabad, lawyers holding copies of the Quran protested in front of the Supreme Court, while worshippers outside mosques held small rallies, demanding the severing of diplomatic ties with Sweden.
A group of minority Christians in the northwest also held a rally to denounce the burning of the Quran.
Supporters of Pakistan’s main radical Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan party are holding rallies in the country’s all major cities, including Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta to denounce the burning of the Quran.
Anger has grown in Muslim countries since last Wednesday when a man identified in Swedish media as a Christian from Iraq burned the Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm on the festival of Eid al-Adha.
Muslim leaders in Sweden have also deplored the incident. But in his televised speech to lawmakers in the parliament the previous day, Sharif questioned why the police in Sweden let the burning of the Quran go ahead.
On Friday, Sharif took to Twitter, urging his compatriots to send a strong message to Sweden by holding rallies and demonstrating.
“When it comes to the Quran, the nation is one,” he wrote. “We will all protest nationwide today under the title of Sanctity of Quran Day and after Friday prayers.”
A similar call for protests has also been issued by Imran Khan, the former premier who was replaced by Sharif in April 2022 after his ouster through a motion of no-confidence in the parliament.
However, the followers of Khan, Sharif, and other parties are holding separate rallies across the nation.
Those holding anti-Sweden protests include a radical party, Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan (TLP), which has previously held violent rallies to condemn the desecration of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
TTP wants the boycott of all products from Sweden and the cutting of diplomatic ties until the man responsible for the burning of the Quran is punished. TLP gained prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 elections, campaigning on the single issue of defending the country’s blasphemy law, which calls for the death penalty for anyone who insults Islam.
Munir Ahmed, The Associated Press