NEW DELHI – Foreign Office (FO) of Pakistan on Monday condemned a Swedish far-right group’s desecration of the Holy Quran and offensive remarks passed by a Dutch politician.
“Pakistan strongly condemns the recent abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran during rallies in Sweden. Pakistan also strongly condemns the offensive remarks made by a Dutch politician, attacking Islam and the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.
“Pakistan’s concerns have been conveyed to the authorities in Sweden and the Netherlands. They have been urged to take cognisance of the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and the Muslims worldwide and take steps to prevent Islamophobic incidents,” the FO was quoted by The Dawn as saying.
Swedish police said on Monday that several days of unrest, sparked by a far-right group’s plans to desecrate the Quran, have injured several dozen people and called for more resources to deal with the violence. Protests turned violent in several cities since Thursday, leaving 26 police officers and 14 civilians injured, police said at a press conference on Monday.
Pakistan said such “provocative Islamophobic incidents” served no purpose other than hurting the sensitivities of the global Muslim community.
“Such actions are not covered under legitimate expressions of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carry responsibilities under international human rights law such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence,” the statement said.
It added that Muslims everywhere unequivocally condemned the practice of insulting Islam, Christianity and Judaism and stood against all acts of violence on the basis of religion or belief. “These principles must be equally respected and supported by all,” the statement pointed out.
Pakistan said the international community needed to show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief, and work together for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence.
“We call on the international community to demonstrate solidarity and commitment to the ideals of building peaceful and harmonious societies for the betterment of humanity,” the FO urged.
The unrest in Sweden was sparked by the leader of an anti-immigration and anti-Islam group, Rasmus Paludan, who is aiming to drum up support ahead of the September elections.
Paludan — who intends to stand in the September poll but does not yet have the necessary signatures to secure his candidacy — has gone on a declared “tour” of Sweden, visiting cities and towns with large Muslim populations with the intent of desecrating copies of the Holy Quran as Muslims mark the holy month of Ramazan.
Clashes with police have erupted during protests against the group since Thursday evening, starting in the cities Linkoping and Norrkoping.
They spread to the city of Malmo, where a school was set alight during the second night of unrest on Saturday-Sunday.
“Criminals have profited from the situation to show violence toward society, without any link to the demonstrations,” national police chief Anders Thornberg said at a press conference on Monday.
“There are too few of us. We have grown, but we have not grown at the same pace as the problems at the heart of society,” he said, asking for more resources for the police.
As protesters burned cars and lobbed rocks at the police in Sunday clashes, officers responded, head of police special forces Jonas Hysing said.
“Some 200 participants were violent and the police had to respond with arms in legitimate self-defence,” he said.
Police had earlier said officers wounded three people after firing warning shots during Sunday’s “riot”.
Eight people were arrested in the city of Norrkoping and 18 people were detained in the neighbouring city of Linkoping, because of the violence.
On Sunday, clashes erupted in both cities for the second time in four days.
In the wake of the string of violent incidents, Iraq’s foreign ministry said on Sunday it had summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires in Baghdad.
It warned the affair could have “serious repercussions” on “relations between Sweden and Muslims in general, both Muslim and Arab countries and Muslim communities in Europe”.
Saudi Arabia’s official news agency said the kingdom has “condemned the agitations of certain extremists in Sweden and their provocations against Muslims”.