Respect of Religions and Holy Books:

Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi who fled to Sweden several years ago, tore up and lit pages of the Islamic holy book on fire on Thursday as Muslims celebrated the Eid al-Adha holiday. The burning of the Quran took place on June 28, 2023, outside the Stockholm Central Mosque

“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 deeply disrespectful act.”

“I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today.”

We hereby request all believers of all religions and nations to respect give freedom to each other for the religious practice also do not disrespect and go for the act of blasphemy as it hurts the feelings of the respective people nations, and cause collateral damage….

Blasphemy laws are employed in some jurisdictions to safeguard the religious beliefs of the majority, whilst they are used in other countries to protect the religious beliefs of minorities.

Blasphemy laws encompass any laws that provide remedy to persons who have been offended because of their faith, in addition to restrictions against blasphemy or blasphemous libel. These blasphemy laws may prohibit the vilification of religion and religious groups, the defamation of religion and its practitioners, the denigration of religion and its adherents, upsetting religious sentiments, or the scorn of religion. Some blasphemy laws, such as those that used to exist in Denmark, do not penalize “critique speech,” but rather “insulting speech”.

Human rights experts advocate for laws that clearly distinguish between the preservation of individuals’ freedoms and the protection of society’s freedoms.

There are countless incidents of persecution of religious minority or dissenters, as well as atheists and non-theists, as a result of legislation on religious offenses or overzealous implementation of various laws that utilize neutral wording. Furthermore, the right to freedom of religion or belief, as embodied in applicable international legal norms, does not entail the right to have a religion or believe that is not subject to criticism or contempt.” According to the Plan of Action, “states that have blasphemy laws should repeal these as such laws have a stifling impact on the enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief and healthy dialogue and debate about religion.”

condemn desecration of Quran in Sweden

Governments, many from the Middle East, issue strong statements and summon Swedish ambassadors in their countries.

 Officials from a number of countries, including many in the Middle East, have condemned the desecration of the Quran by a man in Sweden’s capital during a protest authorized by police. Here are some of the reactions:

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan slammed Sweden over the incident, saying Ankara will never bow down to a policy of provocation or threat. “We will teach the arrogant Western people that it is not freedom of expression to insult the sacred values of Muslims,” he said.    A day earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan called the Quran desecration “despicable”.

“It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression,” Fidan wrote on Twitter. “Turning a blind eye to such atrocious acts is to be complicit.”

The act in Stockholm passed largely without incident with many in the crowd saying they refused to be antagonized [Nils Adler/Al Jazeera] President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told Sweden’s leaders at the time, “If you do not show respect to the religious beliefs of the Republic of Turkey or Muslims, you will not receive any support for NATO from us.”

Morocco went beyond a statement of condemnation and recalled its ambassador to Sweden for an indefinite period.

The kingdom’s foreign ministry also called on Sweden’s chargé d’a ffaires in Rabat and expressed its “strong condemnation of this attack and its rejection of this unacceptable act”, according to state media.

The United States condemned the burning but added that issuing the permit for the demonstration supported freedom of expression.   “We believe the demonstration created an environment of fear that will impact the ability of Muslims and members of other religious minority groups from freely exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief in Sweden,” US Department of State spokesperson Matt Miller said.

“We also believe that issuing the permit for this demonstration supports freedom of expression and is not an endorsement of the demonstration’s actions.”

A day earlier, another US Department of State spokesperson, Vedant Patel, expressed the government’s opposition to the burning of the Quran while also urging Turkey to approve Sweden’s NATO bid.

“The burning of religious texts is disrespectful and hurtful, and what might be legal is certainly not necessarily appropriate,” Patel said. “Broadly, we continue to encourage Hungary and Turkey to ratify the accession protocol of Sweden without delay.”

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson called the desecration “provocative, ill-considered and unacceptable”.  “The government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran … do not tolerate such an insult and strongly condemn it,” said Nasser Kanani.  “The Swedish government is expected to seriously consider the principle of responsibility and accountability in this regard, while preventing the repetition of insulting the holy sanctities,” he added.  Iran’s foreign ministry summoned Sweden’s charge d’affaires in Tehran, state media reported on Thursday, condemning what it said was an insult to the most sacred Islamic sanctities. “While Muslims are performing the Haj … insulting their sanctities merely serves the path of spreading hatred and violence, exploiting the principle of freedom of expression,” Iranian state media said, citing a statement by the ministry.

The Saudi foreign ministry also condemned the burning. “These hateful and repeated acts cannot be accepted with any justification,” it said.

Egypt said Momika’s act was “shameful”, especially since it took place on Eid al-Adha.  “Egypt expresses its deep concern about the repeated incidents of burning the Holy Qur’an and the recent escalation of Islamophobia and crimes of blasphemy of religions in some European countries, affirming its total rejection of all reprehensible practices that affect the constants and religious beliefs of Muslims,” it said in a statement.

The foreign ministry also voiced concern about “repeated incidents” of the burning of the Quran in Europe.

Iraq summoned the Swedish ambassador to Iraq on Thursday over the incident. It called the act “racist” and “irresponsible”, adding that it condemns “the repeated acts of burning copies of the holy Koran by individuals with extremist and disturbed minds”.  “They are not only racist but also promote violence and hatred,” the Iraqi government said in a statement.  “These irresponsible actions, in direct conflict with the values of respect for diversity and the beliefs of others, are unequivocally condemned,” the government added. Hundreds of Iraqis stormed the Swedish embassy  in Baghdad on Thursday after influential Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr urged people to do so, calling Sweden “hostile to Islam”.

Jordan on Thursday summoned the Swedish ambassador in Amman and informed her of the country’s strong protest, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement. The country condemned the act, calling it “racist” and an “incitement”.

“The Ministry affirmed that burning the Holy Qur’an is an act of dangerous hate, and a manifestation of Islamophobia that incites violence and insulting religions and cannot be considered a form of freedom of expression at all,” the kingdom said in a statement.

Jordan said rejecting “extremism” is a “collective responsibility that everyone must abide by”.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the burning was a “dangerous, provocative step that inflames the feelings of Muslims around the world”. It called on the international community and governments “to take responsibility for swift action to renounce feelings of hatred, extremism and religious intolerance”.

The Yemeni government rejected the incident as one “deliberately provoking the feelings of Muslims around the world on holy Islamic occasions by a hateful extremist movement”, a statement by its foreign ministry said. It also called for an end to  the “repeated abuses” stemming from a “culture of hatred”.

Syria’s government condemned the “disgraceful act” on one of the holiest days for Muslims “by an extremist with the permission and consent of the Swedish government”.

The Palestinian foreign ministry called the desecration a “flagrant attack on human rights, values of tolerance, acceptance of others, democracy and peaceful coexistence among followers of all religions”.

The United Arab Emirates summoned the Swedish ambassador on Thursday to protest against the burning.

Qatar condemned the Swedish authorities’ permission to burn copies of the Quran Thursday calling it a “heinous” act to have especially occurred on Eid.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns that allowing repeated infringement of the Holy Qu’ran under the pretext of freedom of expression fuels hatred and violence, threatens peaceful coexistence, and reveals abhorrent double standards,” its foreign ministry said.

In Pakistan, every Pakistani condemns this act. Today on Friday 7th of July 2023 all Pakistani are protesting that burning the Holy Qur’an is an act of dangerous hate, and a manifestation of Islamophobia that incites violence and insulting religions and cannot be considered a form of freedom of expression at all.


Dr. Alia Nawaz

Dr. Alia, Performed Hajj in 2019

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