STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Swedish domestic security agency warned Wednesday that the threat of attacks in the Scandinavian country has increased in the weeks since a far-right activist burned a Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
The agency noted that international reactions to the events outside the embassy last month" have been extensive” and “the assessment is that the security situation has deteriorated.”
"Sweden is judged to be in greater focus than before for violent Islamism globally,” the security service, which is known by the Swedish acronym SAPO, said.
The security agency, however, did not change Sweden's terror threat level, which already stood at three on a five-point scale.
Its statement came at time of tensions with mostly Muslim Turkey over the applications of Sweden and Finland to become NATO members.
Turkey is angry that Sweden has allowed anti-Turkish protests to take place, and particularly that it did not prevent an anti-Islam activist from burning the Quran, the Muslim holy book. The Turkish government also claims Sweden is not doing enough to counter Kurdish activists that it considers terrorists.
Unless its demands are met, Turkey has said it won’t approve Sweden’s NATO application, which requires ratification by all of the military alliance’s 30 members.
Later Wednesday, police in Stockholm said they had turned down an application for permission to burn the Quran during a new protest, saying that “such a gathering is judged to be capable of causing serious disturbances to national security.” Police said the decision was made in consultation with SAPO.
The police didn’t say when the protest had been scheduled for or who had sought permission — which is needed in Sweden. Swedish broadcaster SVT said it was to have been staged outside the Turkish Embassy on Thursday.
On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm issued a warning of “possible retaliatory attacks by terrorists in the wake of recent Quran-burning incidents in Europe.
In its security assessment, SAPO also cited a disinformation campaign that claims Swedish social service agencies kidnap Muslim children.
Last week, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said the government would post guards inside social services offices and earmark more funds to the Swedish Psychological Defense Agency, which was established to counter misinformation. He didn’t say how much money would be given to the agency.”