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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

EU country bans Quran-burning

Denmark will punish desecration of a holy book with up to two years in prison under a new law

Denmark’s parliament passed a law prohibiting the desecration of holy texts such as the Quran, Torah, and Bible on Thursday following a contentious debate. Violators will face up to two years in prison or fines.

The legislation makes it a crime “to inappropriately treat, publicly or with the intention of dissemination in a wider circle, a writing with significant religious significance for a religious community or an object that appears as such,” including by burning, soiling, trampling on, or cutting up such scripture. It includes an exception for artworks in which the desecration makes up “a minor part.”

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Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard hailed the measure as a much-needed “protection against the systematic desecrations we have seen for a long time,” declaring, “We must protect the security of Denmark and Danes” in a statement to the Folketing (Parliament) last month.

Lawmakers from both left- and right-wing parties came together to demand a referendum on the matter, excoriating both the measure and the three-party coalition that had introduced it while insisting the “cowards” behind the legislation step up to defend it during the four-hour debate that preceded the 94-77 vote.

Does Iran change its legislation because Denmark feels offended by something an Iranian could do? Does Pakistan? Does Saudi Arabia? The answer is no,” leftist Socialist People’s Party representative Karina Lorentzen asked rhetorically in a statement following the bill’s passage.

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Right-wing Denmark Democrats representative Inger Stojberg concurred that the law constituted a capitulation to Islam and to countries that “do not share [our] set of values,” warning that “history will judge us harshly for this and with good reason.

The new measure must be signed by Queen Margrethe to take effect, a formality expected later this month.

Danish police recorded over 500 protests involving some form of Quran desecration between July and November, according to Hummelgaard.  The demonstrations took place in front of mosques, embassies of Muslim countries, and in immigrant neighborhoods, igniting an international wave of protests and diplomatic consequences.

Türkiye summoned the Danish ambassador in January, accusing Copenhagen of permitting a “provocative act which clearly constitutes a hate crime” and describing its attitude as “unacceptable.” It warned that similar protests in neighboring Sweden had seriously jeopardized that nation’s chances of NATO accession.

The controversial ban on Quran-burning, previously seen as a legally protected freedom of expression, was initially proposed in July as an expansion of an existing ban on burning foreign flags.

While the government insisted it had no intention of impinging on freedom of expression, it cautioned that the protesters’ actions could have “significant consequences” for Danish security. The intelligence agency PET warned that the inflammatory demonstrations had intensified the threat of terrorism.