Sweden protests: Far-right activists burn Qurʼān

25th Sep 2020

Nadine Osman

At least ten people were arrested in southern Sweden and several police officers injured in violence triggered by a protest where a copy of the Qurʼān was burned, on August 28.

Protesters in Malmö City threw stones at police and burned tyres on the streets of Rosengård a largely migrant neighbourhood.

Earlier in the day, 300 far-right activists held a rally at which a copy of the Qurʼān was burnt. Anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan was expected to attend that rally, but was stopped by the police at the Swedish Danish border, police said.

Between 10 and 20 protesters were arrested for the violence and “have all been released.

Paludan, who leads the far-right Danish anti-immigration Hard Line (Stram Kurs) Party, was stopped at the border with Denmark and subsequently banned from entering Sweden for two years.

“We suspect that he was going to break the law in Sweden. There was also a risk that his behaviourwould pose a threat to society,” said police spokesman Calle Persso.

But his supporters went ahead with the rally, during which six people were arrested for inciting “racial hatred.

Paludan later put up a scathing message on Facebook. ‘Sent back and banned from Sweden for two years. However, rapists and murderers are always welcome! he wrote.

Paludan last year attracted media attention for burning a Qurʼān wrapped in bacon. In June, he was sentenced to a three-month prison sentence in Denmark over various violations of that country’s hate-speech laws.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned both the burning of the Qurʼān and the violence that ensued.

In a statement, the group described the burning as an “act of incitement and provocation” and “contradicts with global efforts to combat extremism and incitement to hatred based on religion and faith.

The OIC Islamophobia Observatory, a body that monitors Islamophobic incidents across the world, called on the country’s Muslims “to exercise restraint and avoid violence.

The head of the UN Alliance of Civilizations expressedunequivocal condemnation of the burning of the Qurʼān by far-right extremists as despicable and unacceptable.

Miguel Ángel Moratinos called on religious leaders of all faiths to denounce all violence based on religious belief, spokeswoman Nihal Saad said, adding that “such deplorable acts perpetrated by hate-mongers… and other radical groups incite violence and tear apart the fabric of our communities” which are an affront to UN values and the alliance which works to strengthen inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.

The Christian Council of Sweden also condemned the burning of the Qurʼān. Ten prominent Christian reverends of the Scandinavian country, including the Archbishop of the Swedish Protestant Church Antje Jackele, released a statement against the anti-Muslim acts.

The archbishop, together with other church leaders, strongly dissociated herself from “conscious violations of people’s faith. The group said that the actions of a Danish far-right racist group were “barbaric.”

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