Iraq condemns burning of Qurans in Copenhagen, says Danish mission staff left Baghdad

DUBAI/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Iraq condemned the burning of a copy of the Quran in front of its embassy in Denmark on Monday and said the Danish staff at the embassy in Baghdad left the country after protests there, while Copenhagen said it “did not withdraw from Iraq”.

Demonstrations erupted across Iran and Iraq after Denmark and Sweden allowed Quran burnings under rules protecting freedom of expression. Protesters in Iraq set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on Thursday.

Two anti-Islam protesters set fire to a copy of Islam’s holy book in front of the Iraqi embassy in the Danish capital on Monday.

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the authorities of the European Union to “quickly reconsider the so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.”

Protesters gathered in Baghdad on Saturday, amid tight security measures, and bridges leading to the Green Zone, which includes many foreign embassies, were closed after demonstrators tried to reach the Danish embassy.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said that the Danish staff at the embassy left Iraq two days ago.

He did not explain the reason or the exact time.

A spokesman for the Danish Foreign Ministry said the embassy in Baghdad had been closed for summer holidays since 22 July.

“We did not withdraw from Iraq,” she said.

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether or not the staff had left the country for the duration of the lockdown.

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Additional reporting by Ahmed Ellamam and Naira Abdallah, additionally by Louise Brioche Rasmussen in Copenhagen, Editing by Mark Heinrichs, Nick McPhee and Hugh Lawson

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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