Sweden warns its citizens abroad and businesses linked to the country that they “should observe increased vigilance" after a string of Quaran burnings sparked anger in the Muslim world.
A senior Swedish official said on Monday Swedes abroad and businesses linked to Sweden “should observe increased vigilance and caution,” following recent Quran burnings in the country and protests in the Muslim world.
Henrik Landerholm, Sweden’s National Security Adviser, said there are signs of “a heightened threat" to the country and to Swedish interests abroad, adding the security situation has worsened.
Authorities have instructed police to intensify their work on the country's border and to check to a greater extent who is entering Sweden and who may have a terrorist motive.
"Sweden has gone from being a "legitimate" target for terrorist attacks, as one among all other Western countries, to being a more prioritised target for this type of terrorist attack," said Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer.
"During the summer, both the security police and the government have communicated that we are in a more serious security situation now than we were six months ago," he added.
These measures are meant to prevent “people with very weak connections to Sweden” to come to the country “to commit crimes or to act in conflict with Swedish security interests,” he said at a news conference in Stockholm.
On Sunday, the UK also warned its citizens travelling to Sweden of possible terrorist attacks. And its foreign ministry said that Swedish officials have already prevented planned attacks in the country.
A recent string of public Quran desecrations in Sweden and Denmark conducted by a handful of anti-Islam activists has sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.
In July, Sweden's embassy was stormed in Iraq. While earlier this month, there was an attempted attack on its embassy in Lebanon, and a consulate employee was shot in Turkey.
Sweden does not have a law specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of the Quran or other religious texts. Like many Western countries, it doesn’t have any blasphemy laws.
The right to hold public demonstrations is protected by the Swedish Constitution. Police generally give permission based on whether they believe a public gathering can be held without major disruptions or risks to public safety.
Swedish officials repeatedly have condemned the desecrations, and have also debunked claims that the government in Sweden grants permission for people to burn Islam’s sacred text or other religious books.