Sweden protestor abandons plan to burn Torah and Bible
A Muslim protestor, who was expected to burn the Torah and the Bible outside the Israeli embassy in Sweden, said he was never going to desecrate the holy books.
At the scene, Ahmad Alloush said he was a Muslim and threw a lighter he held to the ground, saying that burning holy books were "against the Quran," adding that "no one should do that."
"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.
He stated that his action was meant to criticise individuals who burn sacred books like the Quran in the Nordic country.
On Friday, Swedish police confirmed that they had issued him a permit for a protest that was supposed to involve burning the Torah and the Bible outside the embassy in Stockholm.
"If you want to criticise Islam, that is OK", Alloush is quoted as saying in Al Jazeera. But burning the Quran is "not freedom of expression."
"This is a response to those who burned the Quran – freedom of speech has its limits", he said, adding repeatedly that he could never burn a holy book.
Sweden has come under criticism from Muslim countries for permitting the burning of the Quran during anti-Islam protests.
Making a point
Swedish police issued a permit for the protest, sparking condemnation from Israel and Jewish organisations.
The application submitted to the police stated that the demonstration was in response to the protest involving the burning of the Quran and in support of freedom of speech.
Stockholm police told AFP that, in accordance with Swedish legislation, they issue permits for public gatherings rather than specifically endorsing the activities carried out during such events.
"The police does not issue permits to burn various religious texts — the police issues permits to hold a public gathering and express an opinion," said Carina Skagerlind, press officer for Stockholm police.
"An important distinction," she added.
Sweden has protection for the right to hold public demonstrations, which is safeguarded by the constitution. Blasphemy laws were abolished in the 1970s.
In June, Swedish police granted a permit to a 37-year-old named Salwan Momika, allowing him to set fire to multiple pages of the Quran.
UNHRC condemns Quran burning
Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) approved a resolution condemning the burning of the Quran and urged countries to prevent and prosecute acts of religious hatred.
Pakistan and other Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries brought forward the debate and resolution.
UNHRC adopted the draft resolution after it received support from 28 members, with seven abstentions and 12 nations voting against it.
The resolution "condemns and strongly rejects the recent public and premeditated acts of desecration of the Holy Quran, and underscores the need for holding the perpetrators of these acts of religious hatred to account in line with obligations of States arising from international human rights law."
Those voting in favour included Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, India, Qatar, Ukraine and UAE.
Nations voting against the resolution included Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the UK and the US.