Quran desecration in Sweden sparks wide condemnations

Quran desecration in Sweden sparks wide condemnations

Arab countries demand Swedish authorities to stop acts of desecration against Islam’s holy book

By Ibrahim al-Khazen

ISTANBUL (AA) – Arab and Islamic states decried late Thursday Sweden’s permission for desecration of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, in Stockholm.

Early Thursday morning, a crowd of Iraqis stormed Sweden’s Embassy in Baghdad and set it ablaze in protest of the June 28 burning of a copy of the Quran by Salwan Momika, an Iraq-born man who now lives in Sweden.

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on its embassy in Iraq’s capital, calling it a “serious violation” of the Vienna Convention.

Many countries, including the US, Russia, Türkiye, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Afghanistan, as well as other Islamic states, decried the attack.

Following the storming of Sweden’s diplomatic mission, Momika desecrated another copy of the Quran by stepping on it and the Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm.

In response to the repeated act, the Iraqi government warned Sweden that it would break diplomatic relations if such desecrations of the Muslims’ holy book continued.

Baghdad also declared Sweden’s ambassador in the country a persona non grata after the holy book was desecrated for the second time in a month, ordering him to leave the country.

- ‘Repeated and irresponsible actions’ against Quran

The Saudi Foreign Ministry “strongly condemned the Swedish authorities’ repeated and irresponsible actions in granting permits to extremists to burn and desecrate copies of the Holy Quran.”

It emphasized that “such behavior systematically provokes the feelings of millions of Muslims worldwide.”

It further stated that it “will summon the Charge d’Affaires of the Swedish Embassy in the Kingdom to deliver a protest note, urging the Swedish authorities to take immediate and necessary measures to stop these disgraceful acts.”

The Qatari Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack on the Quran in Stockholm and planned to deliver a protest note to the Swedish ambassador, demanding that the Swedish authorities take measures to stop these practices.

Also, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, describing it as a “reckless act that fuels hatred” and considering it a “manifestation of Islamophobia that incites violence and insults religions.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also “condemned the desecration and tearing up of a copy of the Holy Quran for the second time by a hateful and racist extremist in Sweden.”

The ministry deemed this behavior a “flagrant violation of human rights, tolerance, acceptance of others, democracy, and peaceful coexistence.”

Pakistan condemned in the “strongest possible terms” yet another Islamophobic act of public desecration of Quran in Sweden.

“Permission to carry out premeditated and provocative acts of religious hatred cannot be justified under the guise of freedom of expression, opinion and protest,” said the South Asian nation’s Foreign Ministry.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also strongly condemned the desecration of a copy of the Quran in Sweden and said a joint strategy will be formulated by the OIC to counter such acts.

“OIC should play its role in expressing the sentiments of Muslim world and stopping such evil acts,” the Pakistani premier said in a statement.

“The desecration of sacred books, persons, and rituals is not freedom of expression,” he said, adding that such a decision to allow the desecration of the holy book promote hatred in the world and no international law allows it.

- ‘Provocative act’

Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, “condemned the provocative act of desecration in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm in the strongest terms.”

He expressed “deep disappointment in the Swedish authorities for continuing to issue permits despite the appalling consequences of the act.”

Representatives from the OIC members met UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday at the UN headquarters to protest the desecration of the Quran.

They said such acts “not only inflame the sentiments of Muslims worldwide but also goes against the principles of freedom of expression, religious tolerance and individual beliefs.”

“We deeply condemn the repeated incidents of the public burning of Holy Quran in few countries as they insult the sacred values of Muslims worldwide,” said Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith, acting chair of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers and permanent representative of Bangladesh to the UN in New York.

He was accompanied by representatives of other OIC countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Pakistan.

Guterres assured the OIC representatives that he would “do his best in his capacity to support the global efforts in preventing the recurrence of such anti-religious hatred in future.”

Also, Jassim Al-Budaiwi, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, also “strongly condemned the desecration of another copy of the Quran in Stockholm and stressed that these acts provoke the feelings of Muslims worldwide.”

He demanded “immediate and serious action from the Swedish authorities to stop such actions and hold extremists accountable.”

Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, also expressed its “strong condemnation of the repeated provocations by the Swedish authorities against Islamic sanctities under the false slogan of ‘freedom of expression’.”

Al-Azhar considered the Swedish authorities’ “allowing these actions as a crime against Islam, religions, and humanity.”

It called on “all Arab and Islamic peoples to continue boycotting all Swedish products in support of God and His Holy Book.”

*Writing by Mahmoud Barkat in Ankara and with contributions from SM Najmus Sakib in Bangladesh and Islamuddin Sajid in Pakistan

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