Another burning of the Quran provokes outrage across the Muslim world
The burning of the Quran and the Turkish flag outside the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen, by members of the Danish far-right group Patrioterne Gar Live (The Patriots Go Live) is the latest in a series of Quran desecration incidents which have provoked outrage across the Muslim world. The latest incident which took place last Friday 24th March, was met by a damning response from the Turkish Foreign Ministry who referred to it as a hate crime.They said that they will not accept:
‘vile actions being allowed under the guise of freedom of expression...this act which was carried out in Ramadan, has once again clearly revealed that Islamophobia, discrimination and xenophobia have reached an alarming level in Europe and that no lessons have been learned from the past’.
The Foreign Ministry of Jordan in a published statement said the incident was:
‘an unacceptable and racist act that provokes the feelings of Muslims, especially in the holy month of Ramadan...an act of serious hatred and a manifestation of Islamophobia that incites violence and insults to religions.’
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Qatar published a statement which read:
‘The State of Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the burning of the Holy Quran in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and stresses that this heinous incident is an act of incitement and a serious provocation to the feelings of more than two billion Muslims in the world, especially in the blessed month of Ramadan.’
The Copenhagen incident follows a series of Quran burnings by Rasmus Paludan, a convicted racist and the leader of the far-right Danish(Anti-Muslim) Party Stram Kurs, who recently caused an international outcry when he was allowed to burn a copy of the Holy Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm earlier this year whilst enjoying police protection. The decision by the Swedish authorities to standby and allow the desecration to take place, was made they said, in the spirit of ‘upholding freedoms of speech and expression’. The relaxed attitude to this offensive act very nearly crashed Sweden’s bid to secure membership of NATO, as Turkey in response threatened that it may boycott Sweden’s bid. A scheduled visit to Turkey by the Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson, was canceled in the wake of the incident. With so much at stake, the Swedish government stepped up very quickly to repair the damage and the Swedish Prime Minister himself publicly condemned the burning as:
‘deeply disrespectful’. He went on to tweet: ‘Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a disrespectful act.’
Earlier this month, Paludan had announced his plans to continue what he refers to as his crusade ‘to support ethnic Europeans and to deport all Muslims’, with a visit to Wakefield in the UK in the hope that he could capitalise on and further aggravate tensions following a Quran burning incident at a high school in Wakefield at the end of February. UK Minister of State for Security, Tom Tugendhat responding to a request by Wakefield Labour MP Simon Lightwood, wasted no time in announcing a ban on Paludin’s entry. He made a statement to parliament (20thMarch 2023):
‘I inform the house that Mr. Paludan has been added to the warnings index and therefore his travel to the United Kingdom would not be conducive with the public good and he will not be allowed access’.
The UK Security Minister’s prompt action seemed to many, in contrast to the public statements made by the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman who responding to the Wakefield Quran burning incident, had said Muslims:
‘have no right not to be offended..nobody can demand respect for their belief system, even if it is a religion...we do not have blasphemy laws in Great Britain.’