Five Danish opposition parties announced, on Tuesday, that they will mobilise as many of their MPs as possible to oppose the government’s bill to criminalise defaming religious symbols, including the Muslim holy book, Quran, Anadolu Agency reports.
The bill is expected to be moved for voting during the current parliamentary session, which begins on Tuesday after the autumn recess.
The Liberal Alliance, Denmark Democrats, Conservatives, Danish People’s Party, and Nye Borgerlige parties, all right-wing parties, urged their legislators to come to Parliament in maximum numbers to oppose the government’s proposed legislation against Quran burning.
The Liberal Alliance legal spokesperson, Steffen Larsen, in a statement on Tuesday expressed his displeasure with the government’s decision not to instruct its lawmakers how to vote, stating that he wants a “clear demonstration of who is for and who is against this law.”
On 25 August, the coalition government of the Social Democratic Party, Liberal Party and Moderates introduced legislation to criminalise defacing religious symbols.
The legislation was moved in the aftermath of far-right Danish politician, Rasmus Paludan’s repeated torching of copies of the Quran, one of which was near a mosque and outside the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen earlier this year. The act drew worldwide condemnation.
The desecration of the Quran sparked outrage in the Muslim world, with Turkiye strongly condemning the authorities’ approval of the provocative act, which it said “clearly constitutes a hate crime”.
The action is being taken to criminalise the burning of the Bible or the Quran, said a statement released by the Danish Foreign Ministry after the bill was introduced in Parliament.
“As a result of recent Quran burnings, Denmark is increasingly seen in large parts of the world as a country that facilitates insulting and denigrating actions against other countries and religions,” the statement said.
The bill will not cover verbal or written expressions, including drawings, but it targets actions that are performed in a public place or with the purpose of wider distribution.
“These insulting and disparaging actions negatively impact the security of Danes, both abroad and at home in Denmark,” said Justice Minister, Peter Hummelgaard, later the same day.
He noted that this specifically means that “it will be a punishable criminal offense” to publicly burn, for instance, the Bible or the Quran.
However, the latest announcement by the opposition parties clearly indicates that the government is unlikely to get the maximum number of votes to approve the legislation in Parliament, which has begun a four-week consultation phase during which the bill is expected to be formally presented for voting.
The new legislation would be included in Chapter 12 of Denmark’s penal code, which deals with national security. The punishment for breaking the law can range from a fine to two years in prison.