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Algeria: senior scholar calls for boycott of those who violate religious sanctities

People stage a protest against the burning of the Quran in Sweden. [Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency]
People stage a protest against the burning of the Quran in Sweden. [Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency]

The head of the Association of Algerian Muslim Ulema (Islamic scholars), Abdul-Razzaq Qassoum, has criticised those who only condemn manifestations of Islamophobia and attacks on religious sanctities, such as the burning of copies of the Holy Qur'an in Sweden and the Netherlands under the pretext of "freedom of expression", Anadolu has reported.

Qassoum told the agency that being content with condemnations is the "weapon of the weak". He stressed that a political, economic and cultural boycott of the states which allow attacks on Islamic sanctities must be implemented.

On Monday, the leader of the extremist Pegida group, Edwin Wagensveld, tore and then burned a copy of the Holy Qur'an in The Hague in the presence of Dutch police officers. This happened almost three months after he was arrested while burning another Qur'an.

READ: Algeria Army Chief visits France for 1st time in 17 years

Two days earlier, the leader of a Danish far-right party, Rasmus Paludan, burned a copy of the Qur'an outside the Turkish Embassy in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, again with police protection.

These attacks have been condemned widely in the Islamic world, including Turkiye, which has witnessed popular protests, as have Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Egypt, the well-respected Al-Azhar University called for a boycott of Swedish and Dutch products.

"What is important in this situation is how the Islamic world reacts," said Sheikh Qassoum, expressing his outrage that such acts were allowed to take place. "The Islamic response was lacklustre and weak and did not live up to the required level. What is required of Muslims now, both the rulers and the people, is to sever relations, cancel agreements, boycott goods, and so on."

All of this, he added, will be in defence of their faith, Islam, principles and unity. "Muslims are growing closer to their religion and this aggression indicates that those who attack sanctities are afraid of true and correct Islam, and this makes us more committed to Islam and our positions."

READ: Al-Azhar calls for boycotting Dutch and Swedish products in support of the Qur'an

Despite these unacceptable attacks, Qassoum called on Muslims not to respond to abuse with abuse. "Islam gives us discipline, and the Qur'an says, 'If you raise your hand to kill me, I will not raise mine to kill you, because I fear Allah — the Lord of all worlds'."

However, although the Qur'an also says, "If anyone attacks you, retaliate in the same manner," the Sheikh said that he does not support the burning of any holy book in retaliation. "But I do support the use of economic, political and cultural boycotts as a weapon. This is our right and this is what we must do until they apologise."

Algeria's ministry of foreign affairs did what it had to do, the scholar pointed out, but it should not stop at its "strongly-worded" condemnation of the incident in Sweden. "The act deeply undermines the values of freedom on which societies are based, including humanitarian values, and is contrary to the fundamental principles of human rights and undermines efforts to spread the values of tolerance, inter-religious dialogue and coexistence."

READ: 41 Kuwait MPs call to boycott Sweden over extremist's burning of Holy Qur'an

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