Swedish equipment vendor’s staff in Iraq have reportedly had their working permit revoked due to ongoing conflicts surrounding the burning of the Quran in Stockholm
Last Wednesday, Iraqi protestors stormed and set alight the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, in retaliation for a planned burning of the Quran in Stockholm.
No embassy staff were harmed during the assault, all of whom have now been relocated to Stockholm.
Tensions between Sweden and various Islamic groups and governments had been growing for some time, ever since an Iraqi man burned the Quran outside a Stockholm mosque last month in a protest sanctioned by Swedish police. Naturally, this act was highly controversial, receiving much media attention and broad condemnation from the Islamic world.
Nonetheless, that same man announced another sanctioned book burning plan for last Thursday, sparking the Swedish embassy protests in Iraq itself.
Now, this conflict is beginning to extend beyond diplomatic channels, with reports from Iraqi state news suggesting that Swedish telecoms equipment vendor Ericsson has had staff work permits revoked by the Iraq government.
Since then, however, Farhad Alaaldin, an advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, has rejected these claims by the media, saying that no Swedish companies had had their work licences revoked as part of the ongoing unrest.
Ericsson says it is exploring the issue, noting that the safety and security of its staff remained the company’s highest priority.
Iraq is a relatively small market for Ericsson, with the company currently stationing just 30 staff in the country full-time.
However, despite its small scale, the company’s Iraq operations have been a major headache for the Swedish vendor in recent years, after an internal investigation last year revealed that the company may have bribed terrorists in the region around a decade ago.
Further investigations into the Ericsson’s conduct during this period are ongoing, though the company agreed to plead guilty and pay a $206 million fine for breaching a related deferred prosecution deal with US authorities, earlier this year.
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