Anna Grasso (UK Team and Website data analysis)
Gary R Bunt (UK Team and Website data analysis)

One of the objectives of the DigitIslam project is to capture and analyse online data related to current events affecting the Muslim community in our respective countries (United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Poland and Lithuania) during the project’s duration (November 2022-April 2025). This is achieved by setting up web archives1 and utilising this data, along with social media platforms (which cannot be archived for ethical purposes), for drafting short analyses on our project blog. These analyses will later serve as a foundation for academic publications.

This post specifically focuses on online material we collected regarding the Qur’an burning incidents that occurred in Sweden in 2023.

General context and Swedish Muslim responses

In 2023, Sweden witnessed various Qur’an-burning incidents that sparked a global reaction from both Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The most high-profile episode occurred on 28 June 2023 when an Iraqi refugee (Salwan Momika) decided to set the Qur’an on fire in front of the Stockholm Mosque on the day of Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice, one of the two most important Muslim celebrations). This action created a strong reaction from the Muslim official organisations in Sweden who issued numerous statements and press releases as well as organising various protests.

One of the most important Muslim umbrella organisations in Sweden Förenade Islamiska Föreningar i Sverige (Union of Islamic Congregations in Sweden – FIFS) immediately issued a joint statement (together with five other official organisations: Sveriges Muslimska Förbund/Swedish Muslim Union, Islamiska Kulturcenterunionen i Sverige/Islamic Cultural Center Union Sweden, Bosniakiska Islamiska Samfundet/Bosnian Islamic Community, Islamiska Shiasamfunden i Sverige/Islamic Shia Communities in Sweden, Islamiska Fatwabyrån i Sverige/The Islamic Fatwa Agency in Sweden) on their website and Facebook page condemning such acts.

FIFS website

FIFS Facebook page

The most significant protest was organised on 9 July 2023. It brought together all the main Muslim organisations in the country. Many websites and social media platforms shared a common poster. In the following days, pictures and videos were posted online to demonstrate the large number of people involved. A hashtag was created to share footage of the event #lyftuppdinkoran (“lift up your Qur’an”).

Poster of the 9 July 2023 protest      

The Instagram account of the Stockholm Mosque also welcomed the presence of Sheikh Rashid Musa, a UK-based Imam Chaplain and Lecturer. This further demonstrates the global support from Muslims outside of Sweden (which we will present in the next section).

Stockholm Mosque Instagram account

Other religious organisations also participated in the protest. The Ahmadiyya community supported and joined the protest movement. They set up stands in five locations across Sweden from 21-23 July 2023, aiming to engage with non-Muslims, discuss Islam with them, and distribute free copies of the Qur’an. Two hashtags were shared on social media #koranenlär (“The Qur’an teaches”) and #frågaenmuslim (“Ask a Muslim”).

The Muslim community in Sweden also received support from the government and other religious groups, who convened and discussed solutions to combat hate attacks.

From the Stockholm Mosque Instagram page: Meeting 10 of July 2023 between political and religious representatives

Momika sparked another controversy on 20 July 2023 by stomping and kicking the Holy Book in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm. Consequently, this led to the expulsion of the Swedish Ambassador in Iraq.2 Moreover, angry protesters attempted to set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.

These incidents were among the factors contributing to the tragic murder of two Swedes in Brussels in the autumn of 2023.3 This occurred during the Belgium-Sweden match for the Euro 2024 football qualifications. Belgian authorities indicated that the murder might have been motivated by the Swedish nationality of the victims (as they were wearing their country’s t-shirts). In the assailant’s video message, he allegedly mentioned the Qur’an as a “red line” not to be crossed.4

In February 2024, the Swedish Migration Agency decided to expel Momika, but this decision was obstructed due to death threats against him in his home country. Subsequently, in March 2024, his residency permit was revoked, compelling him to relocate to Norway.5 At the beginning of April 2024, a rumour began circulating on social media claiming that Momika had been found dead. Some influencers shared this false information, leading their followers to celebrate the announcement.

UK Muslim influencer Instagram post

A similar accident occurred in Sweden in January 2023 when Danish far-right leader Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Qur’an near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm and later repeated the gesture in front of a mosque in Denmark. This sparked riots in several Swedish cities.

These incidents reignited the debate regarding the balance between freedom of expression and respect for religious beliefs.

Online official European Muslim reactions

Reactions to these Qur’an burning episodes in Sweden can also be found on the websites and social media of Muslim organisations within most of the DigitIslam project’s countries (including the United Kingdom, Spain, and Poland).

Responses from Muslim organisations in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, numerous statements, articles, and analyses can be found on various websites and social media platforms, including those of Muslim organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim advocacy groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), CAGE, and MEND, as well as Muslim media websites such as 5pillars, Muslim News, Eman Channel, Islam21C, and Islam Channel.

The Muslim Council of Britain and Secretary General Zara Mohammed issued statements following the events that took place in January 2023. The perpetrators are described as Islamophobes.

Advocacy groups issued articles and participated in events aimed at addressing Islamophobia. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee published an article on their website on August 2023 condemning the violent reactions from the Muslim community and advocating for a proactive response through education and dialogue. MEND published an article in August 2023, illustrating how burning Qur’ans represents an abuse of freedom of expression and denouncing European countries’ reluctance to recognise such incidents as hate crimes. Additionally, CAGE took part in the Organisation for Security & Cooperation in Europe’s annual Human Dimension Conference in Poland in October 2023, where European Muslim NGOs denounced state-sponsored Islamophobia, highlighting the Qur’an burning incidents in Sweden as well as the Abaya ban in France.

Muslim Media websites covered this incident from various perspectives. In addition to publishing articles relating to the general context, 5PillarsUK highlighted Al-Azhar’s official condemnation against the Swedish State on 22 July 2023, labelling it as a “racist entity” that allowed such Islamophobic acts and calling for the boycott of Swedish products. Meanwhile, they also shared a poll in August 2023 demonstrating Sweden’s population’s opposition to such actions, as a majority voted in favour of banning the burning of Holy books (also published by Eman Channel). Eman Channel also emphasised the disparity between public authorities’ and populations’ reactions, citing the example of a woman who attempted to stop Momika with a fire extinguisher but was ultimately detained by the police.

Some of the Muslim Media outlets focused on different Muslim countries’ reactions to these incidents. Islam21C highlighted Kuwait’s response in gifting 100,000 copies of the holy book to Sweden. Eman Channel reported on international entities’ condemnations, such as the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. These global reactions influenced the Swedish authorities. An article from August 2023 on The Muslim News underlined the Swedish government’s possible intentions of banning the burning of sacred texts.

Responses from Muslim organisations in Spain

In Spain, DigitIslam also identified online responses to these events. The Centro Cultural Islamico de Madrid (Islamic Cultural Centre of Madrid) shared the reaction of the Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia.6  Additionally, IslamOriente, a non-profit Shia Muslim organisation website, published a conspiratorial article denouncing Qur’an burning crimes in both Sweden and Denmark, accusing these incidents of being tied to a broader global strategy involving the US, NATO and Israel to combat the Islamic world. MundoIslam, a global Muslim news portal, released articles focusing on the reactions from Muslim countries and international organisations as well as the potential prohibition of such acts in Sweden. An interesting piece also highlighted Pope Francis’s condemnation of this act.

IslamOriente Facebook page. The post can be translated as “The existing Islamophobia today coincides with the month of Muharram, and with its tenth day, Ashura; today, more than 14 centuries after the Battle of Karbala, resistance once again gathers strength to defeat all the tyranny of world hegemony and its blasphemers.”

Responses from Muslim organisations in Poland

The Shia reaction is also notable in the case of Poland. In fact, one of the few Muslim online websites denouncing such acts was the Ahl ul-Bayt (Twelver Shia congregation founded in 1979 which represents Polish Shia Muslims, mostly converts of Polish descent). On their webpage, we find a reproduction of a statement from the Qom seminary scholar’s community reported in the AhulBayt News Agency English-language website ( denouncing the Qur’an burning, particularly in Sweden.

Ahl-ul-Bayt Islamic Assembly of Poland’s website

Polish NGO Salam Lab also published two articles on the issue. The first was released on 28 January 2023, reporting the UN’s condemnation of Paludan’s act. The second was issued on 4 August 2023 and analysed the potential decision to ban the burning of holy texts.


As we can see, the Qur’an burning episodes in Sweden that took place in 2023 sparked reactions from both the online and offline spaces. Muslim organisations in Sweden and other countries involved in the DigitIslam project (the United Kingdom, Spain and Poland) responded to these events by issuing statements, and articles as well as participating in international events. Both websites (which will be found in our archive) and social media were tools used to foster national and international condemnation. Hashtags were also used on social media to coordinate protests and other offline events.

DigitIslam intends to pursue archiving and examining URLs about this sequence of events to develop a more in-depth analysis. This data can become a useful tool for researchers and the general public who have an interest in digital Islam across Europe as well as those who are mostly focused on the study of anti-Muslim acts and Islamophobia. Moreover, the analysis of these sites will be part of a wider project output through presentations and publications.

Update from April 2024: In a press release on April 10th, the Stockholm Mosque condemned the authorization granted to two individuals to burn the Qur’an in front of its premises during Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadan.

Image by Fauzan My from Pixabay


  1. For more information on this: The online material from Sweden was collected and analysed by the United Kingdom team. back
  2. France24, Iraq expels Sweden ambassador after protester in Stockholm stomps on Koran, 20 July 2023,, accessed 6 March 2024. back
  3. CNN, Police shoot dead suspected gunman accused of killing 2 Swedes in Brussels, 17 October 2023,, accessed 3 April 2024.back
  4. Independent, Sweden fans given overnight police protection in Brussels after shooting during Euro 2024 qualifier, 17 October 2024,, accessed 3 April 2024.back
  5. Arab News, Sweden Qur’an burner says leaving for Norway after residency permit revoked,, 27 March 2024, accessed 3 April 2024.back
  6. Also known as M30 mosque, which self-defines as the largest mosque in Spain and Europe. The mosque is member of the Islamic World League with ties with others mosques in Europe (as the London Central Mosque). Centro Cultural Islamico de Madrid, La Liga del Mundo Islámico agradece la postura del Reino de Arabia Saudí en relación con la quema de una copia del Sagrado Corán en Suecia, el primer día de Eid Al-Adha (Muslim World League appreciates the position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran in Sweden, on the first day of Eid Al-Adha), 3 July 2023,, accessed 3 April 2024.back