NEW DELHI – Muslim countries have strongly condemned the abhorrent act of the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden, stressing that the move hurt the sentiments of the 1.5 billion-strong Muslim community across the globe.
The condemnations came after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), burned the Holy Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
Turkiye and several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait, denounced the Quran burning. “Saudi Arabia calls for spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance, and coexistence, and rejects hatred and extremism,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement, Geo News reported.
The move has drawn severe criticism from Turkiye as well, with Ankara calling off a visit by Sweden’s defence minister and mentioning that “it’s a racist action, it’s not about freedom of expression”.
Türkiye on Saturday condemned the “vile attack” on the Quran, Islam’s holy book, in Sweden.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book, the Quran, in Sweden today (21 January), despite our repeated warnings earlier,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.
Calling the act “an outright hate crime,” the ministry said: “Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable.”
Calling on Swedish authorities to take necessary measures against the “perpetrators of this hate crime”, the ministry said: “This despicable act is yet another example of the alarming level that Islamophobia and, racist and discriminatory movements have reached in Europe.”
The ministry also urged all countries as well as international organizations to take concrete steps “in solidarity against Islamophobia.”
The incident “hurts Muslims’ sentiments across the world and marks serious provocation,” Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said in statements cited by the state news agency KUNA.
He called on the international community “to shoulder responsibility by stopping such unacceptable acts and denouncing all forms of hatred and extremism and brining the perpetrators to accountability.”
In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman of Iran Nasser Kanaani said some European countries under the false pretext of advocating freedom of speech “allow extremist and radical elements to spread hatred against Islamic sanctities and values.”
Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party, under the protection of police and with permission from the government, burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday.
Kanaani said despite the strong emphasis on human rights in Islam, Europeans continue to “institutionalize anti-Islamism and Islamophobia” in their societies.
He added that the desecration of the Quran is a “clear example of spreading hatred and fueling violence against Muslims”, which has “nothing to do with freedom of speech and thought”.
The spokesman emphasized that Muslims worldwide expect the Swedish government to “prevent the recurrence” of such incidents and ensure the act doesn’t go unpunished.
In its statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that this senseless and provocative Islamophobic act hurts the religious sensitivities of billions of Muslims around the world, Geo News reported.
Such actions, the ministry said, are not covered under any legitimate expression of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carries responsibilities under international human rights law, such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence.
The ministry called upon the international community to show a common resolve against Islamophobia, xenophobia, intolerance, and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief, and work together for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful coexistence.
Pakistan’s concerns are being conveyed to the authorities in Sweden, it said, urging them to be mindful of the sentiments of Muslims and take steps to prevent Islamophobic acts, Geo News reported.