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Russia slams NATO chief’s response to burning copy of Holy Qur’an in Sweden 

January 24, 2023 at 7:13 pm

Spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova on November 27, 2020 [RUS Foreign Affairs Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, criticised, on Tuesday, the NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg’s comments on burning a copy of the Holy Quran by Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist, Stram Kurs Party leader, Rasmus Paludan, in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

Zakharova said in a post on Telegram that respecting people’s religious opinions and beliefs is “a duty, not an option”, pointing out that her statements are critical of Stoltenberg who considered the act merely “indecent and illegal”.

The Russian spokeswoman cited several international treaties that oblige the signatory countries to address acts of intolerance and discrimination.

READ: Erdogan tells Sweden no support for NATO membership bid if no respect for beliefs

“These treaties expressly state that the right to freedom of expression does not mean the right to make critical statements, or even to disparage any religion or religious practice,” she said, stressing that the West is “simply obligated to respect the right of hundreds of millions of people to their sacred beliefs”.

On Saturday, Paludan burned a copy of the Holy Qur’an outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, amid tight police protection that prevented anyone from approaching him while committing the provocative act.