ADDS SIDELINE MEETINGS
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - Western countries should put an end to insulting holy books, Turkish parliament speaker Mustafa Sentop said Sunday, in the wake of the burning of the Quran in Sweden and Denmark.
"Western countries should immediately put an end to this dangerous game," Sentop said at the 17th session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States (PUIC) in Algeria.
His remarks came after Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party, on Friday burned a copy of the Quran in front of a mosque in Denmark.
The Islamophobic act came days after Paludan burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden during a police-approved protest.
Paludan also announced that he would burn the Muslim holy book every Friday until Sweden is included in the NATO alliance.
Global condemnations have poured in, with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson calling Paludan’s actions "deeply disrespectful."
The desecration of the Quran triggered strong protests in the Muslim world, with Türkiye calling Paludan an “Islam-hating charlatan” and strongly condemning the permission given by the authorities for the provocative act, which it said "clearly constitutes a hate crime."
"The fact that provocative acts against Islam that insult our sacred values are allowed by the Swedish authorities under the name of freedom of expression, that the Netherlands ignores the attack in its own country, and that Denmark follows the same line is an issue that needs to be carefully considered," Sentop said.
He added that these acts have shown the "hateful mentality" of the West which does not respect beliefs and ideas.
"Despite everything, we Muslims are obliged to be vigilant, moderate, reasonable and dignified. We must not abandon the principles of respecting the differences that our religion and civilization have taught us, enjoining good and avoiding evil," Sentop said.
In the face of such "dire acts," voices from Islamic countries and organizations were also very weak, the parliament speaker said.
"However, our collective and strong response will undoubtedly allow Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands or other countries where such disrespect is experienced to tidy up and will force them to prevent similar disasters that may occur in the future," he added.
In addition to the individual responses by the countries, it is necessary to show reactions at the highest level in the international bodies where the Islamic countries are represented, he said.
- Sideline meetings
On the sidelines of the meeting, Sentop met with the president of the People’s National Assembly of Algeria, Ibrahim Boughali, to discuss the importance of bilateral relations, which develop within the framework of trust and mutual understanding for the stability and prosperity of the region.
Sentop said a comprehensive report will be published as a result of the work of the Committee of Muslim Communities and Minorities under the PUIC.
He added that xenophobia, discrimination and hate crimes against Muslims have increased significantly in non-PUIC countries.
"Western countries, hypocritically, ignore their own values and norms when it comes to Muslims. The report will be very valuable in terms of showing the truths," Sentop said.
Separately, Sentop met with Adama Bictogo, president of the National Assembly of Ivory Coast, to exchange views on cooperation between the countries.
Sentop also held separate sideline meetings with the speaker of Oman’s Shura Council, Khalid bin Hilal bin Nasser al-Maawali, and Ousmane Bougouma, speaker of the Transitional Legislative Assembly of Burkina Faso.
Meanwhile, Sentop also met with Zahid Akram Durrani, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, where they expressed a wish to move their countries’ relations forward in every field.
Zorlu Tore, parliament speaker of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), and Sentop also held a sideline meeting.
"It is a great pleasure for us to be together under the roof of the PUIC. We will continue to work together for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to become a member of the international community," Sentop said on Twitter.