Two days after protesters in Sweden burnt a copy of the Qur’an outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told the Swedes that they should not expect his country to support their bid for NATO membership as long as they do not respect Islamic beliefs, Anadolu has reported. Erdogan made his comment after a cabinet meeting in Ankara on Monday.

“Those who caused such a disgrace in front of our embassy should not expect any benevolence from us on their NATO membership applications,” insisted Erdogan. “The heinous action in Sweden is an insult to everyone who respects the fundamental rights and freedoms of people, especially Muslims.” No one, he added, has the freedom to insult the sanctities of Muslims or other religions.

“The Holy Qur’an, which our Lord preserves, will never be harmed if a copy of it is burned by one of the remnants of the Crusaders. We know that since the Crusades, Europe has equated Islam with the Turks, and we are proud of this.”

The Turkish president went on to say that If Sweden “loves the members of the terrorist [PKK] organisation and the enemies of Islam that much,” then it should turn to them to defend itself.