Denmark bans burning the Koran after string of desecrations

Denmark bans burning the Koran after a string of desecrations in the country sparked anger in Muslim nations

  • Book burning events have prompted protests and flag burnings globally

Denmark’s government will ban Koran burnings following desecrations in recent months that have provoked outrage across the Muslim world, an official said today.

Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard told reporters that the government will present a bill that will ‘prohibit the inappropriate treatment of objects of significant religious importance to a religious community’.

He said that the legislation was specifically aimed at burnings and desecrations in public places, reflecting incidents across Denmark and Sweden that have harmed diplomatic relations with Muslim countries and inspired fervent protests.

Denmark’s government said in July it would seek a ‘legal tool’ to outlaw Koran burnings, citing security concerns – and inviting criticism from Right wing groups, who have denounced the initiative as an attack on freedom of speech.

Far-right Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan burns a Koran in Stockholm, May 14 2022

Danish Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard (left) stands with Foreign Affairs Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen (centre) and Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen (right), telling reporters the government would explore legal means to stop protests involving the burning of holy texts

The move to ban the desecration of religious items follows a move by Sweden and Denmark earlier this month to tighten border controls after Sweden’s security service judged such ‘protests’ had put the country at a ‘heightened terror threat’.

Denmark’s Justice Ministry said earlier this month they would have to ‘increase the focus on who is entering Denmark, in order to respond to the specific and current threats’.

READ MORE: Sweden is in a ‘serious situation’ with a ‘heightened threat’ of terror attacks after Koran burning stunt that enraged the Muslim world, says country’s security service

It followed comments from Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who suggested on 31 July that limiting Koran burnings could help de-escalate the situation. 

But Right-wing parties in both Sweden and Denmark have denounced the initiatives, some saying freedom of speech cannot be compromised. 

Protests this year have seen counter-demonstrations across the Muslim world, inspiring the ire of protestors from Turkey to Indonesia, Iraq and Yemen.

In January, Sweden’s government gave permission to far-right Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan to burn a Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. 

Paludan has been burning Korans since 2017 in both countries. 

In response, protests broke out across the Islamic world, with people in Iraq and Palestine pictured desecrating Swedish flags in anger.

Indonesia and Turkey both summoned their Swedish envoys following the book burning. 

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry called for the Swedish government ‘to punish the perpetrator’ and to stop ‘such vile and provocative anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim acts’.

In Denmark, a far-right activist group called the Danish Patriots have mounted anti-Muslim demonstrations, standing against what it calls the ‘Islamisation’ of Nordic societies. 

The desecration events have also strained diplomatic relations between the Scandinavian countries and the Muslim, despite general condemnation from the governments of Denmark and Sweden.

Paludan’s protest in January soured relations between Turkey and Sweden, the book burning intended to ‘mark some freedom of speech’ after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan slammed Sweden over the hanging of his effigy in Stockholm by pro-Kurdish activists.

Rising political tensions led Turkey to ultimately demand the extradition of 130 so-called terrorists, using Sweden’s reliance on Turkey’s vote for NATO accession as leverage.

Yemenis participate in a protest denouncing the burning of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in Sweden and Denmark, on July 24, 2023 in Sana’a, Yemen

Yemenis participate in a protest denouncing the burning of Islam’s holy book, the Koran, in Sweden and Denmark, on July 24, 2023 in Sana’a, Yemen

The far-right Danish Patriots set fire to a copy of the Koran outside the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark on 24 July, drawing condemnation from Iraq and other Muslim-majority countries.

The group claims it is taking a stand against the perceived ‘Islamisation’ of Nordic countries.

Denmark, like many European countries, experienced a demographic shift after World War II.

This included large-scale immigration from Muslim countries beginning in the 1950s – many escaping conflict, poverty and oppression in the Balkans, Anatolia and North Africa.

In 1973, the government limited migration to the country, before relaxing rules and accommodating many fleeing political persecution.

Likewise in Sweden, many Kurds fled from Turkey in the 1980. Sweden agreed to clamp down on migrants wanted by Turkey on ‘terror charges’.

Denmark now accommodates more than 250,000 Muslims. The country has sought integration, banning ‘attire that impairs recognisability’, including religious garments, and banning halal slaughter.

Amnesty International said at the time the ban violated women’s rights. 

In 2009, a US Department of State report noted isolated incidents of discrimination against immigrants.

The report read: ‘There were isolated incidents of anti-immigrant sentiment, including graffiti, low-level assaults, denial of service, and employment discrimination on racial grounds. 

‘Societal discrimination against religious minorities was difficult to distinguish from discrimination against ethnic minorities. 

‘The Government criticized the incidents and investigated several, but it brought few cases to trial specifically on charges of racial discrimination or hate crimes. 

‘Reports continued of incidents of desecration of ethnic and religious minority gravesites.’

Danish politicians hold a crisis team meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1 August 2023, over reactions to the repeated burning of the Koran in Denmark

Denmark and Sweden alike have struggled to manage attacks on religious groups, despite touting freedom of religion and expression.

There has been no law hitherto in Denmark or Sweden specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of the Koran or other religious texts. 

Muslims regard the Koran as the word of God, transmitted to the Prophet Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel.

The desecration of the text is seen as a grave blasphemy offence worthy of severe punishment. 

Source: Read Full Article