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Pakistan condemns desecration of Holy Quran in Sweden, Norway

Condemnations pour in from across the Muslim world over horrific instances of Islamophobia across Europe

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The Government of Pakistan on Monday strongly reacted to the recent incidents of desecration and burning of the Holy Quran in Norway and Sweden, condemning the incidents in unequivocal terms. Copies of the Holy Quran were reportedly burnt by anti-Islam and far-right activists in Norway and Sweden over the weekend.

In a tweet sent out on Sunday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran. “The rise of such Islamophobic occurrences goes against the spirit of any religion,” he said, adding that, “Ensuring respect for religious beliefs of others is a collective responsibility and is absolutely critical for global peace and prosperity”.

On Friday, the supporters of Rasmus Paludan, the leader of Danish far-right party Stram Kurs in Malmo, Sweden burnt the copies of the Holy Quran that triggered protests and outcry from Muslim communities across the world. Also, in a separate incident, a protestor tore out the pages of the Holy Quran and spat on them in Norway.

Read more: Holy Quran lit on Fire: PM Imran directs Foreign Ministry to contact OIC

The incident of the burning of the Holy Quran took place at the anti-Islam rally organized by Rasmus Paludan. He was expected to attend the rally but Swedish police barred Paludan from attending the rally and stopped him at the Danish-Sweden border.

Swedish Police has banned Paludan from entering Sweden for two years. Paludan has a record of passing inciting remarks against the Muslim community. He has also posted anti-Islam videos on his party’s social media accounts on numerous occasions.

However, his protestors led the anti-Islam rally over the weekend in which several anti-Islam activities were reported, including the desecration of the Holy Quran. Paludan later put up a scathing message on Facebook. “Sent back and banned from Sweden for two years. However, rapists and murderers are always welcome!” he wrote.

Protestors clash with police

The incident set in motion protests in the Southern city of Malmo, where nearly 300 protestors gathered to decry the desecration of the Holy Quran. The protest turned violent when protestors clashed with the police. Protestors pelted stones at police officers, cars were set on fire and tyres had been burnt.

According to the reports, shop fronts were damaged. “We suspect that he was going to break the law in Sweden,” said Calle Persson, spokesperson for the police in Malmo. “There was also a risk that his behavior… would pose a threat to society.”

Earlier in the day, a copy of the Holy Quran was burnt. On Friday several anti-Islam activities took place in Malmo, including three men kicking the copy of the Quran between them on the public square.

Swedish Police has arrested 10 people in connection to the protests. Moreover, six people were arrested on charges of inciting communal and racial tensions. The Malmo neighborhood of Sweden mainly comprises of immigrants-nearly 40% of the population in Malmo have foreign roots.

Condemnations pour in over Islamophobic attacks

The incident attracted widespread condemnation from Muslim countries and human rights organizations. The United Nations Alliance of Civilization condemned the incident-called the burning of the Holy Quran as “despicable and unacceptable”.

The Organization of Islamic Corporation (OIC) also released a reactionary statement on Sunday. In a statement, the OIC described the burning as an “act of incitement and provocation” and “contradicts with global efforts to combat extremism and incitement to hatred based on religion and faith”.

The OIC Islamophobia Observatory-a body that monitors Islamophobic incidents all over the world- appreciated the actions taken by the Swedish government to control the conflict and violent protests. It also called upon the Muslim community, “to exercise restraint and avoid violence”.

Turkey reacts to anti-Islam activities

Turkey also condemned the incident of the burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden. Numerous Turkish officials released statements on the incident. Those who burned the Quran in Sweden are “modern barbarians” who have a “primitive mindset,” said Turkey’s presidential spokesperson on Sunday.

“They shamelessly burn the Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam, in the middle of Europe. They then claim to be the paragons of reason, logic, freedom, and justice,” Ibrahim Kalın said in a tweet. “They label anyone not like them as anti-reason bigots and retros. Modern barbarians know no limits in primitive mindset,” he expressed.

“We are condemning disrespectful act against the Quran by racist/fascist group. Disrespect against Quran means disrespect against all values of humanity,” the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesperson Ömer Çelik also said on Twitter on Saturday.

Read more: Norway to distribute 10,000 translated Qurans to fight Racism

“These provocative acts are a heavy blow to European values and the culture of coexistence,” the Foreign Ministry of Turkey said in a statement.

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