Sweden on Thursday raised its terrorism alert level one notch to the second-highest setting, following recent Quran burnings in the Scandinavian country by a handful of anti-Islam activists, which sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.
The Scandinavian country’s domestic security service, SAPO, said the overall security situation has deteriorated and the risk of terrorism in Sweden was now at level four — “high" -- on its five-point scale. It was the first time since 2016 that SAPO raised the alert to that level.
Sweden has in recent weeks warned citizens abroad and businesses linked to the country to “observe increased vigilance and caution" following a string of public Quran burnings by an Iraqi asylum-seeker. Earlier this year, a far-right activist from Denmark burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
Police have allowed the protests, by a handful of demonstrators, citing freedom of speech.
Like many Western countries, Sweden doesn’t have any blasphemy laws that prohibit the burning of religious texts.
In neighboring Denmark, where there also have been several public Quran desecrations, police said Wednesday that “on the recommendation" of the domestic intelligence service PET, it was "necessary to maintain the temporarily-intensified efforts at the internal Danish borders.” Sweden, too, has stepped up border controls and identity checks at crossing points.
On Tuesday, PET and its foreign intelligence counterpart said in a joint statement that the recent Quran burnings “have resulted in considerable, negative attention from, among others, militant Islamists.” The terror alert level in Denmark is also at the second-highest level.