BAGHDAD - Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations on Thursday condemned the burning of the Koran by an Iraqi living in Sweden, warning such acts "inflame" the feelings of Muslims around the world.
Under a heavy police presence, Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old who fled to Sweden several years ago, on Wednesday stomped on the Koran before setting several pages alight in front of Stockholm's largest mosque.
The incident occurred as Muslims around the world began marking the Eid al-Adha holiday and as the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia was drawing to a close.
Iraq condemned the Swedish authorities' decision to grant an "extremist" permission to burn the Koran.
"These events inflame the feelings of Muslims around the world and represent a dangerous provocation for them," the foreign ministry in Baghdad said.
Iraq's influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr called for a demonstration outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad to demand the removal of the ambassador, charging that his state is "hostile to Islam".
Iran joined in the condemnation, calling the Koran burning "provocative, ill-considered and unacceptable".
"The Swedish government is expected to seriously consider the principle of responsibility and accountability in this regard, while preventing the repetition of insulting the holy sanctities," he added.
Saudi Arabia, which hosted around 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims for the hajj that ended on Wednesday, also denounced the Koran burning.
"These hateful and repeated acts cannot be accepted with any justification," the Saudi foreign ministry said.
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Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, called the Koran burning a "disgraceful act provoking the feelings of Muslims" as they mark Eid.
The Cairo-based Arab League branded it an "assault on the core of our Islamic faith".
United Arab Emirates presidential adviser Anwar Gargash tweeted that the West "must realise that its value system... cannot be imposed on the world".
Kuwait called for perpetrators of such "hostile acts" to be brought to justice and "prevented from using the principle of freedoms as a ploy to justify hostility against Islam or any holy faith".
The Koran burning was also condemned by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and by Morocco, which recalled its ambassador to Stockholm.
"This new offensive and irresponsible act disregards the feelings of more than a billion Muslims, at this sacred time of the great pilgrimage to Mecca and the blessed feast of Eid al-Adha," the kingdom said.
"Faced with these repeated provocations, committed under the complacent gaze of the Swedish government", Morocco summoned Sweden's charge d'affaires in Rabat and recalled its ambassador, it added.
Syria's government condemned the "disgraceful act" on one of the holiest days for Muslims "by an extremist with the permission and consent of the Swedish government".
The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation called for "effective measures to prevent a recurrence".
Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed movement Hezbollah charged the Swedish authorities were "complicit in the crime".
The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned what it said was a "flagrant attack on human rights, values of tolerance, acceptance of others, democracy and peaceful coexistence among followers of all religions".
Further afield, Afghanistan's Taliban government, which enforces a strict interpretation of the Koran and Islamic law, also reacted angrily, labelling the Koran burning an act of "utter contempt towards this noble religion".
In January, a Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist burned a copy of the Koran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, also triggering outrage in the Muslim world.