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Muslim world unites against toxic wave of Islamophobia in Sweden, Denmark

By Mohammad Homaeefar

The recurring incidents of the desecration of Islamic sanctities in Europe, particularly in Sweden and Denmark, have drawn unprecedented anger and outrage across the Muslim world in recent weeks.

Several Muslim-majority countries have registered protests over enabling of Islamophobia under the guise of freedom of speech in Stockholm and Copenhagen, summoning or expelling their envoys.

Condemnations poured in immediately after a far-right rally was held in Stockholm on Thursday, which involved individuals kicking and partially damaging a copy of the Holy Qur’an – the second such incident in the Scandinavian country in less than a month.

In a separate incident in Denmark on Friday, a man set ablaze a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen and also burned the Iraqi flag in an event streamed live.

The two incidents came almost a month after Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Christian Iraqi refugee in Sweden, desecrated a copy of the Holy Qur’an in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque during the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival under police protection.

Sweden in ‘battle-array’ for war

In Iran, millions of people took to the streets in the capital Tehran and other major cities after Friday prayers this week to voice their anger and outrage over the incidents in Sweden and Denmark.

The foreign ministry summoned the Swedish and Danish ambassadors on Thursday and Saturday respectively, to convey the Islamic Republic’s strong protest to the two European countries.

Top civilian and military leaders strongly condemned the blasphemous acts, demanding punishment for the perpetrators and calling for the boycott of Swedish and Danish products.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in a message on Saturday, said all Islamic scholars agree that the perpetrators must face the “severest punishment”, warning that supporting criminals against the Muslim world is “equivalent to going into battle-array for war”.

“Affront to the sacred realm of ​​the Holy Qur’an in Sweden is a bitter, conspiratorial and dangerous incident. The severest punishment for the perpetrator of this crime is the consensus view of all Islamic scholars,” the Leader said in his message.

“The Swedish government should also know that by supporting a criminal, it has taken a war stance against the Islamic world and attracted the hatred and enmity of the Muslim nations and many of their governments.”

President Ebrahim Raeisi also slammed the authorities in Sweden and Denmark for giving the green light to the desecration of the Holy Qur'an, saying it exemplifies “modern ignorance.”

"Despite the [European countries'] claim to freedom of expression, the permission issued [by them] for the recent acts of desecration against the Holy Qur'an exemplifies 'modern ignorance'," he said Sunday.

"In view of the wave of awakening that is sweeping the world, the day will come when all the people will become aware of the ominous, despicable and inhumane intentions of those who insult the Qur'an.”

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahianalso announced that the country will not accept a new ambassador from Stockholm as per President Raeisi’s directive.

Iraq expels Swedish ambassador

Iraq also took a strong position over the incident in Stockroom, expelling the Swedish ambassador and recalling its envoy from Stockholm. It also suspended the working permit of Swedish telecom company Ericsson, which is already accused of paying bribes to the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist group.

It came after angry Iraqi protesters stormed Sweden’s embassy in the highly-fortified zone of Baghdad on Thursday, damaging the walls of the compound and setting it on fire.

Several thousand Iraqis also demonstrated in the capital on Saturday amid heavy security measures, hours after an attempt by protesters to get to the Danish Embassy.

“The provocative and heinous practices against Islamic sanctities are fuelled by laws that allow such actions under the pretext of freedom of expression and the right to protest, which foster hatred and extremism and threaten social peace and security,” Iraq’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iraq’s President Abdel Latif Rashid called on Western governments “to stop incitement and hate practices, whatever their pretexts”.

Meanwhile, German defense minister Boris Pistorius has canceled an official visit to Iraq, citing security concerns amid raging protests in the Arab country.

‘We protect Qur’an with our blood’

In Lebanon, thousands of people took part in protests to demand the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador from the Arab country and the withdrawal of the Lebanese envoy from Sweden.

It came after the leader of the Hezbollah resistance movement called for protests across Lebanon while urging Muslim nations to follow in Iraq’s footsteps and expel Swedish ambassadors from their countries.

“The whole world must see how we embrace our Qur’an, and the whole world must see how we protect our Qur’an with our blood,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said during a speech on Thursday.

"What we witnessed is a provocation to the feelings of Muslims, and it is clear that whoever burned or desecrated the Holy Qur'an was with the permission of the Swedish government, and he is the same person who burned the Qur'an some time ago.”

In another speech on Saturday, the Hezbollah leader called on Muslim countries to sever their relations with Sweden and expel the Swedish ambassadors from their respective capitals.

"We must not be deceived by the Swedish and Danish [governments'] apologies, [because] they are not enough and these governments must prevent such abusive behavior," the Hezbollah leader said.

The Lebanese foreign ministry also called the incident a “violation of the dignity of Muslims.” 

‘Stop these shameful acts’

Saudi Arabia summoned the Swedish envoy in Riyadh and handed them a note of protest, demanding that Sweden take “all the necessary measures to stop these shameful acts.”

Separately, Riyadh condemned the desecration of the Qur’an in Denmark and demanded that the Danish government prevent such violations that provoke Muslim sentiments.

The Saudi foreign ministry said the kingdom condemns any action that incites violence and hatred among followers of different religions.

Under the guise of free speech

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Jordan also summoned Sweden’s envoys to hand them protest notes, with the Qatari foreign ministry saying in a statement that Swedish authorities should take all the necessary measures to stop the anti-Islam blasphemous acts.

These acts reflect a “disregard for international responsibilities and a lack of respect for social values,” the Emirati foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

It also expressed its “rejection of the use of freedom of expression as justification for such heinous acts.”

Culture of hatred

Jordan’s foreign ministry said the move was “an expression of a culture of hatred” and “a stark provocation of the feelings of about two billion Muslims, which cannot be justified under freedom of expression at all.”

It called on the Swedish government to take all necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such acts, which violate common human values and fuel hatred and racism.

The UAE, Qatar and Jordan also denounced the burning of a copy of the Qur’an in Copenhagen as a “heinous incident” and an “act of hatred and a manifestation of Islamophobia.”

Turkey slammed the “despicable attack” on the Qur’an in Stockholm and called on Sweden to take “decisive measures to prevent this hate crime” against Islam.

“We strongly condemn the despicable attack targeting our sacred book, the Quran in front of Iraq’s Stockholm Embassy,” a statement from the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Pertinently, Turkey recently gave its approval to Sweden’s NATO membership bid after months of delay.

‘Islamophobes spreading hatred’

Pakistan said the repetition of the “senseless and deeply offensive” desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Denmark leaves little doubt in the minds of Muslims around the world that freedom of expression “is being blatantly abused to spread religious hatred and incitement to violence.”

“It also calls into question the legal framework behind which the Islamophobes hide and spread hatred with impunity,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.

“At a time when there is an increasing need for inter-faith harmony and mutual respect for peaceful coexistence, the international community cannot turn a blind eye to these hate mongers.”

In a separate statement on Thursday, the ministry urged the Swedish authorities to take all measures necessary “to stop such acts of hatred and incitement.”

“Pakistan’s concerns about the latest incident are being conveyed to the Swedish authorities,” it added.

Earlier this month, Pakistan observed the ‘Sanctity of the Quran Day’ in response to the blasphemous act in Sweden with the Pakistani parliament passing a unanimous resolution against it.

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