Altun: The incident of burning the Qur’an incites violence against Muslims

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The head of the communication department in the Turkish presidency, Fahrettin Altun, stated that burning a copy of the Holy Qur’an in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm has nothing to do with freedom of expression, but rather incites violence against Muslims.

In his interview on Monday, Altun told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that there is a difference between freedom of expression and hate speech.

And that this act has nothing to do with freedom of expression, as it is an incident that incites violence against Muslims, especially in Sweden.

Altun asked, “If the disgusting Kristallnacht incident occurred today, in which the Nazis burned pages from the Torah, would the Swedish authorities consider it freedom of expression or not?”

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He added, “The same applies to terrorist propaganda as well. The Swedish government made some commitments in Madrid recently, and we heard from the Swedish authorities that they kept all their promises, but it is clear that this is not the case.”

He stated that Turkey and Sweden have deep-rooted relations in the fields of politics, economy and culture, but nowadays everyone is aware of the existence of some differences.

In response to a question about the latest developments in Swedish Defense Minister Pal Johnson’s visit to Ankara this week, Altun said, “Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced the cancellation of this visit due to the recent developments in Sweden.”

“In fact, the message is quite clear, there is no point in the meeting if Sweden does not take Turkey’s concerns seriously,” he added.

With regard to Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “NATO”, Altun said that Ankara supports in principle the NATO’s open-door policy, so it does not oppose, in principle, Stockholm’s membership.

He stressed that they are waiting for the Swedish institutions to fulfill their obligations towards Turkey in order for the latter to agree to its membership in NATO.

In response to a question about the time period that might take for Turkey to ratify Sweden’s accession to “NATO”, Altun said that there is no specific time limit for that.

According to the Turkish official, his country does not ask Sweden for any special demands that it did not ask for from the rest of the “NATO” allies.

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On June 28, 2022, Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding regarding the accession of the latter two countries to NATO, on the sidelines of the Alliance Leaders Summit, in the Spanish capital, Madrid.

The memorandum came after the two European countries pledged to respond to Ankara’s demands regarding cooperation in the fight against terrorism.