EU centre-left supports Wallström

The Social Democrat group in the EU Parliament takes Foreign Minister Margot Wallström's side in the diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia, Swedish Television reports.

Wallström previously criticised the punishment, including flogging, of a blogger in the kingdom, calling it medieval, which led to Saudi Arabia accusing Wallström for disrespecting Islam and sharia law.

Wallström has underlined several times that her criticism of the country was about human rights and democracy in Saudi Arabia, and not criticism of Islam, and it's this line that the Social Democrat group in the European parliament is now backing.

Knut Fleckenstein, vice chair of the group, says in a press statement that Saudi Arabia has misinterpreted Wallström's criticism adding that Wallström has not criticised Islam as a religion, but only Saudi Arabia's interpretation of the religion.

"It's an unacceptable misinterpretation of her statement. Far from all muslims agree with Saudi Arabia's interpretation of Islam," Fleckenstein says.

Sweden also recently cancelled a defence co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia. As a result of all this, Wallström was prevented from speaking to a meeting of the Arab League and Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm in protest. The kingdom has also stopped issuing business visas for Swedish citizens.