Denmark’s Stance: Combating Koran Profanation

Denmark wants to reduce manifestations of hostility to Islam, involving desecrations of the Koran. The government is considering means of intervention, while respecting freedom of expression, so as not to upset the Arab countries any longer.

The recent attempts to destroy the Koran by fire have caused a stir in many Muslim countries and sparked anger against the Scandinavian nations.

Several recent demonstrations in Sweden or Denmark involving burnings or other desecrations of the Muslim holy book have raised diplomatic tensions between the two Scandinavian countries and several Arab countries.

It all started at the end of June when Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee in Sweden, set fire to pages of the Koran outside the main mosque in Stockholm. Last week, the man once again stomped on and tore to pieces a copy of the book outside the Iraqi Embassy to show his opposition to its precepts.

In response to the permission given by the Swedish police to hold this event, hundreds of Iraqis invaded and set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.

At the end of July in Denmark, the far-right Danske Patrioter movement posted a video of a man desecrating and burning what appears to be a Koran and trampling on an Iraqi flag.

After a first similar initiative a few days earlier, nearly a thousand demonstrators had gathered at night in Baghdad. They had tried to march towards the Danish embassy, but the Iraqi police had dispersed them, using truncheons and tear gas.

Shortly after, the Swedish ambassador was expelled from Iraq and Iran indicated that it would not accept a new ambassador from the Scandinavian country on its territory.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq further called for an extraordinary meeting, to be held this Monday, July 31, 2023, of the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to address the desecration of the Quran in the two Scandinavian countries.

At the end of July, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran summoned representatives of Swedish diplomatic missions to their countries. Algeria also summoned the representatives of Denmark.

Country that “facilitates insult”

Copenhagen does not want such actions to happen again and tries at all costs to avoid alienating Arab countries.

While Danish diplomacy is stepping up efforts and gestures of appeasement, the government announced on Sunday July 30, 2023 that it wanted to limit possible new demonstrations involving desecration of the Koran, which have fueled tensions with the Muslim world, highlighting the security issues they entail.

Emphasizing that such actions play into the hands of extremists and sow division, the Danish government intends to “explore” the possibility of intervening in situations “where, for example, other countries, cultures and religions are insulted, and which may have significant negative consequences for Denmark, especially in terms of security,” the foreign ministry wrote in a statement.

“This must of course be done within the framework of freedom of expression protected by the Constitution,” he added, stressing that this is one of Denmark’s most important values.

The country has more than 260,000 Muslims (nearly 4.5% of its population), the religious community that has experienced the greatest increase in the last fifty years, since there were less than 30,000 in 1980.

The Danish Foreign Ministry notes that the protests have “reached a level where Denmark, in many parts of the world, is perceived as a country that facilitates the insult and denigration of other countries’ cultures, religions and traditions”. .

According to him, the “main purpose” of some of these demonstrations is to provoke and “could have significant consequences”.

In a separate statement, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Sunday he had been in close contact with his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen, recalling that a similar process was already underway in Sweden.

“We also started July the legal situation to consider measures to strengthen our national security and the security of Swedes in Sweden and around the world,” Kristersson recalled on Instagram.

Sweden on Thursday ordered its armies and administrations to strengthen their preparations against terrorism amid deteriorating security, after several episodes where the Koran was desecrated.

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