Al Azhar blasts Sweden as racist over Quran burning incidents
One of the world's most prestigious universities for Islamic learning has accused Sweden of racism over the recent spate of Quran burnings in the country.
Al Azhar said it strongly condemns Sweden for allowing extremists to burn and desecrate the Quran, calling it a "stain on Sweden."
It comes after another incident last Thursday saw Islamophobes in Sweden stomp on and kick what they said was the Quran. Swedish police authorised the protest and kept counter-demonstrators at a distance.
"Sweden has proven, through its practices, that it is the closest society to racism and the furthest from respecting religions and peoples," Al Azhar said in the tweet.
"Al-Azhar expresses its strong condemnation and denunciation of the repeated provocations practiced by the Swedish authorities against our Islamic sanctities under the false slogan of freedom of expression."
The university urged people to continue "boycotting Swedish products in support of the Quran, the book of God."
Meanwhile, on Friday, a far-right Danish group Danske Patrioter allegedly burned the Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen.
The Muslim World League condemned the incident in a strongly worded statement. The Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said these "absurd and heinous acts” violate religious and human norms and principles.
Swedish ambassadors expelled
Sweden has come under criticism from Muslim countries for permitting the burning of the Quran during anti-Islam protests in recent months,
More condemnations followed last week when extremists in Stockholm kicked and partially damaged a book they said was the Quran outside the Iraqi embassy.
The protests went ahead after the courts overturned a police ban, citing the legal protection of the right to freedom of assembly.
Last month, the same man burned a Quran outside a Stockholm Mosque, re-igniting the controversy.
Several countries summoned Swedish ambassadors in response to the recent incident.
Iraq expelled the Swedish ambassador to Iraq. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, called back his country's charge d'affaires in Sweden and suspended the working permit of Swedish telecoms company Ericsson.
Its foreign ministry said the country would cut diplomatic ties with Sweden if similar incidents happen again.
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE summoned their respective Swedish ambassadors, while Turkey and Jordon condemned the actions.
Many people took to the streets in Muslim-majority countries on Friday to express their outrage.
Freedom of speech or freedom to hate?
Last week, a Muslim protester said that burning any holy book was against the Quran and that no one should do it.
Ahmad Alloush was expected to burn the Torah and the Bible outside the Israeli embassy in Sweden but said it was a stunt to protest the recent Quran burnings.
He had no intention of desecrating the sacred book. "I'm a Muslim, we don't burn (books). I want to show that we have to respect each other," Alloush said, according to SVT.
The Quran burning incidents have triggered heated debates about freedom of speech and public expression boundaries.
And it seems like the acts of these extremists is shifting opinion, with most Swedes now supporting a ban on the public burning of religious texts like the Quran.
Carried out by Kantar Public, 53% said that burning holy scriptures of any religion in public should be prohibited, an 11% increase compared to a similar survey undertaken in February.