The Swedish Democrats Henrik Vinge says that the party has nothing to do with Saturday's Quran burning which has aroused the anger of the outside world – especially Turkey's.
"No, we're not involved in it at all, no."
Even before the far-right provocateur Rasmus Paludan set fire to a Quran near the Turkish embassy on Saturday, it was known that the application fee for the demonstration permit was paid by someone else: journalist Chang Frick, owner of the news site Nyheter idag and presenter of the SD channel Riks.
Paludan claims that it was not his idea to travel to Sweden and burn the Quran, writes Dagens Nyheter (DN) He means that the proposal came from Frick or a reporter from the right-wing extremity site Precise24.
Frick says to DN that he would not encourage anyone to burn a Quran – but he wanted to encourage the right to mark against Turkey.
Today's ETC has also reported that Frick paid Paludan's flight ticket to Sweden – something both Paludan and Frick reject.
The Quran burning – an action that has upset both within and outside Sweden – has put further obstacles in the wheels of Sweden's NATO process. At the same time, it has raised a debate about Swedish freedom of expression and the government has been partly criticized for not standing up for it enough.
TT: A straight question: Rasmus Paluda's Quran burning was not sanctioned by the Swedish Democrats?
"No, we are not involved in it at all, no, answers Henrik Vinge, SD's group leader and deputy party leader."
However, he would like to point out that Frick is also involved in a SVT program – and therefore Vinge cannot say about Frick "is more connected to SD than he is to SVT".
"But I also think that Sweden is a country with freedom of expression, we are a country with freedom of demonstration, and it has been a dramatic development linked to this NATO application lately," says Vinge and continues:
"I am not here today to give any new information in the view of NATO or actually comment on the expressions that have been taken in these different contexts, but we have to wait and see developments."
Critique the Prime Minister
On Monday, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (M) got a boot from Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the Swedish Democrats. Åkesson criticizes the Prime Minister's statements after this weekend's Quran burning and calls it "very, very worrying" and believes that the government should always stand up for Swedish freedom of expression.
Furthermore, Åkesson called the government's statements "animosity towards Islamist forces, inside and outside Sweden."
During a press conference on Tuesday Kristersson got a question about Åkesson's views and what the dialog now looks like between the two party leaders.
"I and Jimmie Åkesson have of course talked about this and I understand that we fully agree on two things. One is that Swedish freedom of expression applies fully, fully and firmly. The other is that it would be very good if we could come back to a calm dialog with Turkey about Swedish NATO membership. There we think exactly the same, he replied."