Anti-Islam Danish group sets fire to Quran outside Egyptian and Turkish embassies

Sweden’s charge d’affaires was summoned to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo after the protest in Sweden

Iraqis protest in Baghdad against the burning of a Quran by an ultranationalist group in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen. AP
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A small group of anti-Islam activists who call themselves the “Danish Patriots” set fire to copies of the Quran in front of the Egyptian and Turkish embassies in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

The demonstration followed Quran burnings staged by the Danish group on Monday and last week in front of the Iraqi embassy. In response, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement strongly decrying the act.

Denmark has condemned the burnings as “provocative and shameful acts” but says it does not have the power to block non-violent demonstrators.

“The EU reiterates its strong and determined rejection of any form of incitement to religious hatred and intolerance,” said Josep Borrell, the EU's top diplomat.

“Respect for diversity is a core value of the EU. This includes respect for other religious communities.

“The desecration of the Quran, or of any other book considered holy, is offensive, disrespectful and a clear provocation.

“Expressions of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in the EU.

“We continue to stand up for freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, abroad and at home; but not everything that is legal is ethical.

“Now is the time to stand together for mutual understanding and respect. These acts committed by individual provocateurs only benefit those who want to divide us and our societies.”

“People benefit from an extended freedom of speech when they demonstrate,” University of Copenhagen law professor Trine Baumbach told Reuters.

“It does not just include verbal expression. People can express themselves in various ways, such as through the burning of items.”

Similar acts were carried out in neighbouring Sweden in the past few weeks and were met with strong condemnation from several Muslim countries.

Demonstrators stormed and torched Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad last week in protest at a planned burning of a Quran, the second to take place in Sweden this month. The burning did not eventually take place but a copy of the Quran was stamped on.

Iraq's foreign ministry called on the EU to “quickly reconsider so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate” in light of the burnings.

Turkey also condemned what it called a “despicable attack” on the Quran and a “hate crime” against Islam.

Sweden’s charge d’affaires was summoned to the Egyptian foreign ministry in Cairo after the burning of the Quran in Sweden, the ministry’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Swedish ambassador’s deputy met with Ehab Nasr, Egypt’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Affairs, according to a statement.

Mr Nasr reportedly warned that the repeated burnings of Islam’s holy book could contribute to the spread of Islamophobia, hate speech and extremism.

Such acts only encourage destructive behaviours and ideas that seek to destroy the ties formed between the civilised people of the world
Egypt’s foreign ministry

“Such acts only encourage destructive behaviours and ideas that seek to destroy the ties formed between the civilised people of the world,” read Egypt’s foreign ministry statement. Stressing that it completely rejects insults towards any religion and its followers because they are “against the tenets of free speech”.

Muslims consider the Quran to be the sacred words of God. Any intentional damage to or insults involving the holy book are considered deeply offensive.

Mr Nasr urged the charge d’affaires and his government to take more action to limit these acts and promote “forgiveness and peaceful coexistence”.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sanaa voicing their anger against the repeated offences by residents of the Nordic countries.

Algeria’s foreign ministry and Bahrain also summoned the Danish ambassador and the Swedish charge d’affaires. Bahrain summoned Sweden’s chargé d'affaires.

Updated: July 26, 2023, 4:55 PM