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Allowing Quran burning in Sweden, Denmark threatens other religious groups: Rights defender

February 1, 2023 at 6:06 pm

Rasmus Paludan, a far-right Danish politician is being protected by Danish policemen as he makes a statement before burning a copy of the Quran in front of Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 27, 2022 [Muhammet İkbal Arslan/Anadolu Agency]

Granting permission for far-right Danish politician, Rasmus Paludan, to burn Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in Sweden and Denmark on the grounds of “a democratic right” and “freedom of expression” stokes the distrust in the society and worries other religious groups, according to a Swedish rights activist, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Helene Sejlert, a political scientist and human rights defender, told Anadolu that Paludan’s anti-Islamic acts are causing more problems and put more people in danger.

“His actions are spoon-feeding racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. If the law can’t stop that, there’s clearly something wrong with the law!” Sejlert said.

His actions are harming so many, she said. “Large (different) groups are now scared of just saying that they are Muslims or Jews.”

“To escalate the hate against these groups is, of course, also the aim for a bigot like Paludan,” she added.

Paludan, who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, last week burned copies of the Quran on two separate occasions, first outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden and, later, in front of a mosque in Denmark.

READ: Turkiye prosecutors launch probe into Quran-burning Danish, Dutch politicians

Burning Quran ‘bone-chilling echo of Nazi’ mentality

“The burning of the holy Quran is a bone-chilling echo of Nazi book-burnings, where ‘the other’ was demonised and the ‘un-pure’ people or material should be exterminated,” Sejlert said. “This is a rhetoric Paludan (and other extremists) has used when addressing what he views as ‘The Muslim problem’.”

She also said there is “way too little knowledge on how to address and combat racism and Islamophobia” in Swedish society.

The opinions expressed by a few radicals, like in the case of Paludan, is not “just a cheap, isolated event, spread for the wind by a crazy lone wolf,” Sejlert said. “It is rather a reflection of the society we live in and an extension of the hate that is growing in every corner of our streets. Many times, this hatred is directed at Muslims.”

She continued: “These few radicals get a free ride by media which gives them a platform to ventilate their racism and Islamophobia, and then social media drives the topic to a boiling point.

“As the emotions run wilder, normal limits of decency are trespassed, the words used get more and more emotional and hateful towards ‘the other’ and starts to appeal to an even broader group.”

Police could have prevented attack, says Sejlert

While there is already “a lot of hate-mongering and disinformation” across the society, Paludan did not only burn copies of Quran, but “set fire to an inflamed situation,” Sejlert said.

“Sweden should have acted wiser and more fair,” she asserted. “Sweden should have set an example to not hurt a large chunk of its population even more.”

Sejlert said “the law is clear and the police could have called the provocation off by invoking security concerns, since the hateful act very well could result in violence.”

Sweden Democrats, an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant Party, won 22 per cent of the votes last fall and became a strong voice in the government and life in the country is getting harder and harder for Muslims, she argued.

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