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Denmark passes legislation criminalising Islamophobic Quran-burning protests

December 7, 2023 at 7:02 pm

People take part in a protest against the burning of Holy Quran in Denmark and Sweden in Sanaa, Yemen on July 24, 2023. [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

Denmark passed legislation on Thursday effectively criminalising Islamophobic Quran-burning protests on the grounds of “inappropriate treatment of writings with significant importance for a recognised religious community”, Anadolu Agency reports.

Following a heated debate among judges, the bill was passed with 94 votes in favour and 77 votes against in the 179-member Danish Parliament.

The bill makes it illegal to burn, tear, or defile holy texts in public or online to widely disseminate them.

Offenders can risk a fine or jail term for as many as two years.

While the three-party coalition government voted in favour of the bill, no coalition member stood to respond to opposition criticism during the debate in the Parliament.

The Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre) was the only opposition party to vote for the bill.

The bill was first introduced in August, but was later amended due to concerns raised within the ruling coalition about freedom of speech.

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The bill would become law following the formal signature of the Danish Monarch, Queen Margre, who is expected to sign it later this month.

The Danish Ministry of Justice said in a statement that the law is aimed at combat “systematic mockery”, which raises terror threat levels in Denmark.

“We must protect the security of Denmark and Danes,” Justice Minister, Peter Hummelgaard, said, adding, “That is why it is important that we now get better protection against the systemic desecrations we have seen for a long time.”

Earlier in August, members of the ultranationalist group, Danske Patrioter, or Danish Patriots, burned a copy of the Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen.

The perpetrators chanted anti-Islamic slogans during the provocative act, which was carried out under police protection.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in response to the Islamophobic protests said Turkiye will never yield to provocations or threats.

“We will eventually teach Western monuments of arrogance that insulting Muslims is not freedom of thought,” Erdogan told members of the Justice and Development (AK) Party via a video message.

Turkiye will “show our reaction in the strongest way until a determined fight against terrorist organisations and enemies of Islam is carried out,” he added.