A video that shows a group of men, purportedly Taliban militants in Kandahar, south Afghanistan, shooting at a Swedish flag and then blowing it up has been circulating on social media.
At the end of January, the Scandinavian country infuriated the Islamic world when far-right activist Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm after being granted permission by authorities.
The video shows a group in Afghanistan standing with a flag as one of them shoots into the distance with a rifle.
A line of men are then seen, with one of the members firing a rocket launcher, which causes the Swedish flag pinned to the side of a building to explode.
A video that shows a group of men, purportedly Taliban militants in Kandahar, south Afghanistan, shooting at a Swedish flag and then blowing it up has been circulating on social media
The group members then walk over, with one of them holding up the damaged flag and pointing a gun towards it.
They walk off carrying the flag and saluting with their rifles.
On January 27, thousands of Afghans held protests to express anger over the Koran burning in Sweden.
Kabul residents in different parts of the city took part in demonstrations, according to police spokesperson Khalid Zadran.
In the northern province of Badakshan, a spokesperson for the provincial government said thousands had gathered after Friday prayers to protest.
Earlier that week, the Taliban-run Afghan foreign ministry had called on the Swedish government to punish the individual and to prevent any similar incidents taking place.
A line of men are seen, with one of the members firing a rocket launcher, which causes the Swedish flag pinned to the side of a building to explode
Paludan, a convicted extremist, who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, repeated the protest at a mosque in Copenhagen, in front of a Turkish embassy.
He vowed to do so every day until Sweden is admitted to NATO.
The provocative demonstration has endangered Sweden’s bid to join the security organisation after Turkey postponed planned accession talks.
The decision to allow the burning of the Koran in Stockholm came amid strained relations between Sweden and Turkey, following the latter’s decision to push back on Swedish ascension to NATO.
Sweden and Finland have sought NATO membership since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but their bids must be approved by all 30 NATO member states.
The two Nordic countries still rely on votes from Turkey and Hungary, which Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has promised to deliver in 2023.
In the video, the group members walk over to the flag, with one them holding up the damaged item and pointing a gun towards it. They walk off carrying the flag and saluting with their rifles
Prior to the Stockholm protest, Paludan said he wanted to ‘mark some freedom of speech’ after the hanging of an effigy of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan near the city hall provoked a strong response in Turkey.
Riots erupted in Malmö in April last year after Paludan visited Sweden ahead of an election, intending to burn the Koran to drum up support for his movement, and previously in August 2020 when activists burned the Koran after Paludan was arrested.
Turkish officials said the effigy hanging by pro-Kurdish activists prior to the Stockholm incident was contrary to an agreement made previously under which Sweden and Finland would crack down on Kurdish militants as both seek Turkish approval for NATO membership.
Sweden is home to a large number of Kurds, many of whom fled Turkish persecution in the late 1980s and subsequent crises in the Middle East.
Rasmus Paludan is pictured burning the Koran outside of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm
Turkish foreign minister Melvut Cavusoglu said that Swedish inaction over the effigy was ‘absurd’ and that Sweden should not try to fool Turkey by calling the act ‘freedom of speech’.
The country has increased the pressure on Sweden, demanding 130 so-called ‘terrorists’ be extradited to Turkey before the Turkish parliament will approve NATO bids.
The burning of the Koran in Stockholm to spite Turkey, which is a Muslim-majority country, was also met with a strong response.
Muslims consider the Koran the sacred word of God and deem any intentional damage or mark of disrespect towards it as hugely offensive.
Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement criticising the act, which it said happened despite ‘repeated warnings’.
‘Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of “freedom of expression” is completely unacceptable,’ it said.