diplomacy

Islamabad Embassy Closed After Threats

Updated 8:11 PM

Sweden's embassy in Pakistan has been closed for the past two weeks due to the the security situation in the country, but the news has only now been made official.

”In Islamabad, just like in other places in this region, we have had a number of security threats. And we close embassies when there are concrete threats,” Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Swedish Radio News on Thursday.

In line with Swedish diplomatic tradition, the Foreign Ministry will not reveal exactly what kind of threats have been extended. It is suspected, however, that the closure is linked to the controversial drawings of the prophet Mohammed by a Swedish artist.

“Sometimes these kinds of threats can be purely general, sometimes they can be more specific,” Carl Bildt said, “but we have cause to take all threats against our staff very seriously.”

On Thursday afternoon, demonstrators in Pakistan’s second-largest city, Lahore, gathered to demand that their country break all diplomatic connections with Sweden, Denmark and Norway. News agency AFP reports that they then proceeded to stamp on Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian flags.

However, the demonstration was not a matter of protest aimed at Sweden at all, but rather at the popular social networking site Facebook.

A user of the website—with no connection to Sweden—declared a “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day,” angering the Pakistani government to the extent that it decided to block access to the site.

But the demonstrators apparently made a connection to the controversy surrounding a series of drawings by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, in which he depicted the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog.

The drawings were done in 2007, but he recently rose to attention again after an international plot to kill him was uncovered in March this year.