Monday, January 23, 2023
Web Desk

'Serious provocation': Muslim world reacts to desecration of Quran in Sweden

Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the holy book in Stockholm while being protected by police

Web Desk
Members of pro-Turkish organisation Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) demonstrate in support of Turkiye and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, Sweden January 21, 2023.— Reuters
Members of pro-Turkish organisation Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) demonstrate in support of Turkiye and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, Sweden January 21, 2023.— Reuters 

The desecration of a copy of the Quran in Stockholm, Sweden, by a Swedish-Danish right-wing fanatic, has drawn condemnations from all across the Muslim world.

On Saturday, Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party, desecrated a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm while being protected by the police and with approval from the government.

Multiple Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Turkiye, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have condemned the abhorrent act. Most have called it an "act of provocation" and warned that the incident can seriously hurt Muslim sentiment. 

PM Shehbaz Sharif took to Twitter to condemn the hurtful act, saying the "garb of freedom of expression can't be used to hurt religious emotions of Muslims".

The tweet read: "No words are enough to adequately condemn the horrible act of desecration of the Holy Quran by a right-wing extremist in Sweden. The garb of freedom of expression cannot be used to hurt the religious emotions of 1.5 billion Muslims across the world."

Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Hissein Brahim Taha also condemned in the strongest terms the vile act.

“The OIC Secretary-General urges the Swedish authorities to take necessary measures against the perpetrators of this hate crime. He calls for increased international efforts to prevent the re-occurrence of such acts and for solidarity to fight Islamophobia,” a press release of the OIC Secretariat in Jeddah quoted the secretary-general as saying.

'Serious provocation'

The Swedish government was also criticised by Saudi Arabia for permitting the far-right lawmaker to burn the holy book.

In a statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry reiterated “the kingdom’s firm position calling for the importance of spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence, and rejecting hatred and extremism.”

Qatar has also strongly denounced Sweden for allowing the desecration of the Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

“This heinous incident is an act of incitement and a serious provocation to the feelings of more than two billion Muslims in the world,” the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

'Vile act'

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry labelled the Quran desecration as a “disgraceful act.”

A ministry statement warned that this “disgraceful act provokes the feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world.”

“These extremist practices are inconsistent with the values of respect for others, freedom of belief, human rights and human fundamental freedoms,” the statement added.

The disrespectful deed was decried by the Turkish Foreign Ministry as a "vile act."

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book, the Quran, in Sweden today (21 January), despite our repeated warnings earlier," a ministry statement said.

Ankara postponed the visit of Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson to Turkey in retaliation to Sweden's approval of the event.

Morocco expressed its shock. "This hateful act, which offends the sensibilities of more than a billion Muslims, can fuel anger and hatred between religions and peoples," the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said that the incident "hurts Muslims' sentiments across the world and marks serious provocation.”

Iran described the burning of the holy book as an effort to incite animosity and violence against Muslims. Tehran claimed that several European nations "enable extremist elements to promote hatred towards Islamic sanctuaries and values" under the guise of supporting free speech.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also denounced the event and restated its opposition to any actions that try to undermine security and stability and go against moral and ethical norms. The UAE reaffirmed its appeal to put an end to hate speech and violence, emphasised the need of respecting religious symbols and warned against encouraging hatred by disparaging other religions.

Oman too labelled the incident "an act of provocation to the feelings of Muslims and incitement to violence and hatred, by extremists in Sweden.”

Jordan chimed in and emphasised the need to promote a culture of peace and tolerance, saying that "condemning extremism is a common obligation."