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Desecration of Qur’an in Sweden sets off worldwide outcry

Police officers intervene after people's reaction as extremists burn the Holy Qur’an (not pictured) outside Stockholm's central mosque in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 28, 2023. (Photo via Reuters)

Strong condemnations continue to pour in from across Arab and Muslim countries over the blasphemous burning of a copy of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, in Sweden’s capital during a protest authorized by police as Muslims celebrated the Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) holiday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Thursday lashed out at the government of Sweden for granting consent to the desecration of the holy book.

“The entire Muslim world strongly condemns the sacrilege of holy books and the Qur’an. Sweden’s green-lighting of an act of desecration against religious sanctities and the Holy Qur’an is not justifiable at all,” Amir-Abdollahian wrote in a post published on his Twitter page.

“Branding such moves as acts of democracy and freedom will only fuel further terrorism and extremism, and will boomerang on the West before any side,” he said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani also called the incident "provocative, injudicious and unacceptable."

Acts of insult against holy books serve as an instance of inclination towards aggression and hatemongering, and counter authentic human rights values, he said.

Stockholm, Kan’ani said, is advised to prevent the repetition of acts of insult against international sanctities in the future, and pay serious attention to the principles of responsibility and accountability in this regard.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) roundly condemned the desecration.

It warned in a statement on Thursday about the dangers and consequences of such actions, emphasizing that the move is in contradiction to efforts to promote coexistence and moderation.

The OIC went on to underline the significance of adherence to international charters and regulations concerning respect for human rights, calling on world nations and governments to take necessary measures to prevent repetition of such hideous actions.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Ankara 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.

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

“As much as those who commit this crime, those who allow it under the guise of freedom of thought, those who turn a blind eye to this baseness will not achieve their goals.” 

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan also labeled the desecration “despicable.”

“It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression,” Fidan wrote on Twitter. “Turning a blind eye to such atrocious acts is to be complicit.”

The Saudi Foreign Ministry also condemned the burning.

“These hateful and repeated acts cannot be accepted with any justification, as they clearly incite hatred, exclusion, and racism, and directly contradict international efforts seeking to spread the values of tolerance, moderation, and rejection of extremism, and undermine the necessary mutual respect for relations between peoples and states,” it said in a statement.

Egypt said the act was “shameful” especially since it took place on Eid al-Adha. The foreign ministry also voiced concern about “repeated incidents” of the burning of the Qur’an in Europe.

“Egypt expresses its deep concern about the repeated incidents of burning the Holy Qur’an and the recent escalation of Islamophobia and crimes of blasphemy of religions in some European countries, affirming its total rejection of all reprehensible practices that affect the constants and religious beliefs of Muslims,” it said in a statement.

Iraq called the act “racist” and “irresponsible,” adding that it condemns “the repeated acts of burning copies of the holy Koran by individuals with extremist and disturbed minds.”

“They are not only racist but also promote violence and hatred,” the Iraqi government said in a statement. “These irresponsible actions, in direct conflict with the values of respect for diversity and the beliefs of others, are unequivocally condemned.”

Dozens of Iraqi protesters, supporters of influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, on Thursday briefly breached the Swedish embassy in Baghdad over the desecration.

The demonstrators entered the building and remained inside for about 15 minutes before leaving peacefully as security forces were deployed.

The protesters also distributed leaflets that carried messages in Arabic and English that said, “Our constitution is the Qur’an. Our leader is al-Sadr.”

“Yes, yes to the Qur’an,” was also scrawled on the gate leading to the embassy.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the burning was a “dangerous, provocative step that inflames the feelings of Muslims around the world.”

It called on the international community and governments “to take responsibility for swift action to renounce feelings of hatred, extremism and religious intolerance.”

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the “disgraceful act” on Eid al-Adha holiday “by an extremist with the permission and consent of the Swedish government.”

“This crime, apart from offending the feelings of millions of Muslims, unequivocally illustrates the immoral level to which Western governments have descended, and the emptiness of their claims,” the ministry said in a statement.

Additionally, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned Sweden's Ambassador to Amman Alexandra Rydmark to protest the burning of the Qur’an in Stockholm. 

The ministry in a statement "condemned the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran as a racist act of serious hate, and a manifestation of Islamophobia that incites violence and insult to religions."

“Such acts cannot be justified in the context of freedom of expression at all," the ministry said, reiterating its rejection and condemnation of such acts, which are considered "a crime and a provocation to the feelings of more than two billion Muslims around the world."

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry also condemned the move in strongest terms, stressing that this “repeated act is an aggression on Muslim sanctities and a provocation to their feelings.”

The Hezbollah resistance movement lashed out at Swedish authorities for being “complicit in the crime.” It said in a statement that continuous desecration of the Qur’an in Sweden and other countries is unacceptable, warning that the Lebanese resistance group won’t keep mum on such violations.

“Swedish authorities are complicit in this crime as they green-lighted such move despite the fact that they previously knew about the perpetrators’ intention to desecrate the Holy Qur’an.”

“Swedish Government has to stop this grim downward trajectory instead of arguing about the so-called ‘freedom of speech’ and other bombastic mottos,” the Hezbollah statement read.

The resistance movement also called on Muslim governments and bodies to take all appropriate moves “in order to prevent the repetition of such follies and to put an end to hatemongering.”

The United Arab Emirates summoned the Swedish Ambassador Liselott Andersson to protest against the burning of the Qur’an, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called the desecration a “flagrant attack on human rights, values of tolerance, acceptance of others, democracy and peaceful coexistence among followers of all religions.”

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