Swedish media is reporting that a European Turkish lobby group that supports and frequently interacts with the Turkish government protested in support of President Erdoğan and Turkey against a Quran burning in Sweden. According to the SVT Nyheter report:
January 21st, 2023: On Thursday, the Stockholm police granted Paludan’s request to hold a public gathering near the Turkish embassy at 1pm on Saturday. There, true to form, he plans to burn a copy of the Muslim holy book. According to Paludan, the aim is to “mark some freedom of speech” against Turkey. This follows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s anger after last week’s action outside Stockholm City Hall, when the Rojava Committees organisation hung a doll depicting Erdogan by his feet. At the same time as Paludan’s Koran burning, the pro-Turkish organisation Union of European Turkish Democrats, UETD, has obtained permission for a demonstration in support of Turkey and President Erdogan outside the embassy. [Translated by DeepL]
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Rasmus Paludan is the leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line and has Swedish citizenship.
The protest is aligned with the Turkish government, as Erdoğan has said that he would block Sweden’s entrance to NATO for allowing the Quran-burning protest. Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has announced it would file a legal complaint against Sweden over the Quran burning.
The Union of European Turkish Democrats is the old name of the Union of International Democrats (UID). The UID describes itself as a voluntary NGO founded in 2004. Its aims include increasing the economic, political, and social activities of Turks and “sister communities” abroad without alienating their identities and values and combatting Islamophobia. German media has described it as a lobbying group for President Erdoğan and his AKP that emphasizes Turkish values and customs. The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution monitors the UID, describing it as “nationalist” and incompatible with Germany’s free democratic order. The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has reported several times on meetings and collaboration between the government and the UID. It is unclear why several publications have recently been using the UID’s old name in reporting on this issue.