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Denmark hopes bid to ban Quran burnings will ease tensions with Muslim countries

July 31, 2023 at 3:43 pm

Supporters of Sadrist Movement gather with the call of the Sadrist Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr to protest against Quran burning in Sweden and Denmark on the road between the tombs of Imam Hussain (Husayn Ibn Ali) and Abbas ibn Ali in Karbala, Iraq on July 28, 2023 [Karar Essa – Anadolu Agency]

Danish Foreign Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said on Monday he hoped the government’s proposal to limit Quran burnings in the country would help de-escalate a growing international conflict with several Muslim countries, Reuters reports.

Denmark and Sweden have seen several protests in recent weeks where copies of the Quran have been burned, or otherwise damaged, prompting outrage in Muslim countries, which have demanded the Nordic governments put a stop to the burnings.

The Danish government said on Sunday it would seek to find a “legal tool” that could enable authorities to intervene in such protests, if deemed to entail “significant negative consequences for Denmark, not least with regard to security”.

READ: Qurans burnt in front of Egypt, Turkiye embassies in Denmark

“The fact that we are signalling both in Denmark and abroad that we are working on it will hopefully help de-escalate the problems we are facing,” Rasmussen told journalists, following a meeting with foreign policy speakers of parliament on Monday.

“It is not because we feel pressured to do so, but it is our political analysis that it is in the best interest of all of us,” Rasmussen said, adding: “We shouldn’t just sit and wait for this to explode.”

The Nordic countries have deplored the burnings of the Quran but cannot prevent it under constitutional laws protecting freedom of speech.

However, both governments have now said they are considering legal changes that would allow authorities to prevent further burnings in special situations.

The Swedish government said, this month, it is examining a similar solution but right-wing parties in both countries have denounced the initiatives, with some saying freedom of speech cannot be compromised.

Swedish Foreign Minister, Tobias Billstrom, said on Monday that he had sent letters to all 57 countries in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to explain Sweden’s right to assembly and condemned Islamophobic acts.

OIC foreign ministers will convene in an extraordinary session on Monday to discuss the recent developments.

READ: Swedish migration agency re-examines residency permit of Qur’an burner