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Sweden will not expel man behind recent Koran burning demos despite deportation order

a restored rare copy of the holy koran, which dates back to the first hijri century, according to egypt's national library and archives, is displayed, in cairo
FILE PHOTO: A restored rare copy of the holy Koran, displayed at Egypt's National Library and Archives in Cairo

Sweden’s migration agency said on Thursday it had decided to deport an Iraqi man who burned copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, but that the order would not be carried out because the man would risk torture in his home country.

In August, Sweden raised its terrorism alert to the second-highest level and warned of an increase in threats against Swedes at home and abroad after Koran burnings outraged Muslims and triggered threats from jihadists.

Several actions were led by Salwan Momika, a refugee from Iraq who says he wants to protest against the whole institution of Islam and ban its holy book.

“Yesterday, the Migration Agency decided to recall his status and residency permit and decided that he should be deported,” a spokesman for the Swedish Migration Agency told Reuters.

He said the reason was that the man had given false information on his application for residency.

However, the spokesman said Sweden could not carry out the deportation order as the man would risk torture and inhumane treatment if he were to be sent to Iraq. If the situation changes, the man will be deported, he added.

In July, the agency said it was re-examining Momika’s residency permit.

“I am not leaving Sweden. I will live and die in Sweden. The Swedish Migration Agency has made a serious mistake. I suspect there are hidden political motives behind this decision. I will appeal,” Momika told Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

Anti-Islam activists have burned several copies of the Koran in Sweden and Denmark, two of the most liberal countries in the world that allow trenchant criticism of religion in the name of free speech. But many Muslims view desecrating the Koran, which they see as the literal word of God, as a grave offence.

Last week, a Tunisian gunman killed two Swedish football fans in Brussels in an attack which Sweden’s prime minister said showed that Europe must bolster security to protect itself. The gunman identified himself as a member of the Islamic State and claimed responsibility in a video posted online.

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