DUBAI/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that people who desecrate the Koran should face the “most severe punishment” and Sweden has “gone into battle-array for war on the Muslim world” by supporting those responsible.
Protests have raged across Iran and Iraq after Sweden allowed the burning of the Koran under rules protecting free speech. Protesters in Iraq set alight the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on Thursday.
An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden burned a Koran outside a Stockholm mosque last month. Protesters in Sweden kicked and partially destroyed a book they said was the Koran outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday, but did not burn it as they had threatened to do, Reuters witnesses said.
Swedish officials have deplored the acts but said they cannot prevent them.
Iran’s state media reported that Khamenei had demanded Sweden hand over those responsible for prosecution in Islamic countries.
“All Islamic scholars agree that those who desecrate the Koran deserved the most severe punishment… The duty of that (Swedish) government is to hand over the perpetrator to the judicial systems of Islamic countries,” Khamenei said in a statement carried by state media.
Iran, which has delayed the posting of a new ambassador to Sweden, also said it was not accepting a new Swedish envoy.
“The Swedish government should know that by supporting the criminal who burnt the Holy Quran it has gone into battle-array for war on the Muslim world,” Khamenei later tweeted.
“They have created feelings of hatred & animosity toward them in all the Muslim nations & many of their governments,” he said.
A Swedish government representative was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Dubai and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; editing by Jason Neely and Nick Macfie)