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Why this Islamophobia by burning the holy Quran in Sweden and Denmark

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By: Masud Rana
Last January 21, in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, in front of the Turkish embassy, the abominable incident like burning the Holy Quran has happened again. Rasmus Paludan, the controversial leader of the far-right political party Hard Line, set fire to a copy of the Quran while standing amid police security. Before that, he gave an abusive speech attacking Islam and Sweden’s immigration system for about an hour. Around 100 supporters were with him at that time. The country’s far-right has protested against Turkey’s objection to Sweden’s membership in NATO, the US-led Western military alliance. And there the Holy Quran was burnt in the name of protest. In April 2022, Paludan faced a lot of controversy by announcing a ‘journey’ to burn the Quran during the holy month of Ramadan. His program caused massive riots in Sweden (Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, January 23, 2023).
Finland-Sweden originally agreed with Turkey to join the military alliance NATO in June 2022. According to the terms of the agreement, the two countries cannot give any concessions to Kurdish terrorists. At the same time, fugitive Kurdish terrorists living in Finland-Sweden should be handed over to Turkey. However, Sweden allegedly violated those conditions. Turkey joined NATO in 1952, a military alliance established in 1949. The US-led alliance requires each country’s consent to join the alliance. In that case, Turkey has the opportunity to exercise veto power to oppose the inclusion of Finland and Sweden in this alliance. Turkey has signaled it will not approve Sweden’s NATO membership in the wake of the burning of a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm (Previous).
In a video in December 2018, Rasmus said, ‘Islam and Muslims are enemies. It would be great if there is not even one Muslim in this world, then we will reach our ultimate goal. Paludan was jailed for 14 days in 2019 for racist speech in Denmark. A year later, Paludan was further jailed for 14 types of racism, defamation and dangerous driving. Sweden’s Sträm Kurs hardline party did not win a single seat in Denmark’s 2019 national election. Currently, Paludan is planning to contest the election again in June 2023. But there are not enough signatures for his candidacy.
This is contrary to the civil law and state values of a sovereign country like Sweden. Some extremists deliberately set fire to the Holy Quran to offend the sentiments of Muslims. Political analysts consider it a provocative crime. Peace-loving people rejected the attack in contrast to global efforts to defeat extremism and hatred based on religion and belief. Boddhamahal calls for strengthening global efforts to combat such hate incidents.
Dr. International relations researcher. Hamdan al-Shehri said, “Terrorists and criminals who do not respect other religions and cultures and who want to incite discord and drag the world into religious wars, should not be allowed to express hatred in any way, regardless of the consequences of their actions.” In the past we have seen a vicious campaign through traditional or media to denigrate Muslims; Muslims represent 2 billion people of the world’s population. These campaigns are conducted openly against and in many cases are carried out in the name of democracy or freedom of expression.” Muslims are always keen to respect culture and religion (Arab News, Jeddah, April 19, 2022).
There has been a storm of condemnation in countries around the world over the burning of the Holy Quran. In the meantime, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Somalia and Kuwait have protested against this shameful incident. Bangladesh, Pakistan also condemned. Turkey issued a statement with a strong reaction after the anti-Muslim leader burned the Quran. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said, “We condemn in the strongest terms the heinous attack on our holy books.” Allowing such anti-Islamic acts under the guise of freedom of expression cannot be accepted in any way. It targets Muslims and insults our sacred values.’ Turkey canceled an upcoming visit by the Swedish defense minister to protest the burning of the Quran. Sweden’s NATO membership is expected to be discussed during the visit. No new member can join this Western military alliance without the support of all the old members. Therefore, Sweden must obtain the consent of Turkey to become a member of NATO.
According to a press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka, Bangladesh expresses deep concern about the insulting of the sacred values of Muslims all over the world under the guise of freedom of speech. Referring to Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, the ministry said, Bangladesh believes that freedom of religion should be upheld and respected under any circumstances. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said in a tweet, “No words are enough to condemn the heinous act of insulting the Holy Quran in Sweden.” Freedom of expression cannot be used to hurt the religious sentiments of the world’s one and a half billion Muslims. This is not acceptable. The Swedish Foreign Minister himself condemned it. Tobias Billström called the incitement to Islamophobia “horrific” in a tweet, saying, “Sweden has far-reaching freedom of expression.” However, that does not mean that the Swedish government or I support the views expressed.
The surprising thing is that despite the talk of freedom of speech, humanity, civilization and values, it has become fashionable to devalue or ridicule the culture or religious symbols of other religions. This interpretation of free speech in the past was expressed through 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in the Danish newspaper ‘Jyllands Posten’ on September 30, 2005. On January 10, 2006, the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet, the German newspaper Die Welt, the French newspaper France Soir and other newspapers in Europe republished the images. Their publication hurt the sentiments of the vast majority of Muslims and met with widespread condemnation at various political levels in the Muslim world. Another form of inciting hatred and hatred against Muslims was attacks on places of worship, such as the 2019 Christchurch mosque terror attack in New Zealand; Brenton Harrison Tarrant is an Australian terrorist. He killed more than 51 Muslims in those two mosques. Such hateful acts do not reflect the values of peace, coexistence and civilized world. Rather, on the pretext of freedom of expression, they are taking Muslims back to the dark ages (Pragukta). “Charlie Hebdo” magazine in Paris published cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad SAW. It is an act of terrorism against 200 crore Muslims.
An organized group is carrying out terrorist activities like insulting Islam, Prophet Muhammad SAW and burning Quran in different countries of the world including Europe. In fact, the progress of religion cannot be stopped by burning scriptures. It is a manifestation of low mentality. It creates instability in society and state and makes peaceful coexistence impossible. Desecration of the Quran has been legal in Denmark since 2017. A regular occurrence of the Hard Line Party (Danish: Strum Kors) is the burning of the Quran. In mid-2005, allegations of deliberate desecration of the Quran in front of Muslim prisoners at the US military Guantanamo Bay detention camp sparked widespread controversy and led to riots in Cuba. A US military commission of inquiry confirmed four cases of Quran desecration by US personnel (two of which were described as ‘unintentional’) and 15 cases of desecration of scriptures by Muslim prisoners. According to CBC News, ‘the statement offered no explanation as to why detainees could abuse their own holy books.’ Guantanamo Bay base, fueled more Muslim unrest.
In 2010, Christian pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center drew international condemnation when he announced plans to burn a Quran at a church in Gainesville, Florida on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. He later canceled the plan; However, on March 20, 2011, he oversaw the burning of a Quran. In response, Muslims in Afghanistan protested and 12 people were killed in the clashes. In a 2011 Louis Theroux documentary America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis, Megan Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church explained in an interview that they deliberately and publicly burned a copy of the Quran. In February 2012, protests broke out in various parts of Afghanistan over the desecration of the Quran at the US military’s Bagram Air Base. Protesters chanted “Death to America” and burned US flags. At least 30 people were killed and hundreds were injured. Six US soldiers lost their lives. On July 31, 2016, several copies of the Quran were desecrated in a prayer room at Malta’s Mater Dei Hospital, days after the Normandy church attack. A piece of pork was placed inside the holy scriptures. The attackers also left a photo of Catholic priest Jacques Hamel with the caption ‘Victim of Islam’. Apart from this, in different Muslim countries, some people throw the Holy Quran into drains and drains in the dark of night. Many such incidents took place in Taif, Saudi Arabia.
A 2017 Pew Research report revealed that 8.1 percent (about 8,10,000) of Sweden’s population of 10 million are Muslim. The first registered Muslim groups in modern Sweden were the Finnish Tatars who immigrated from Finland and Estonia in the 1940s. In the 1960s, immigration was the main driving force behind the spread of Islam in Sweden. Islam began to make a noticeable presence in Sweden in the 1970s with immigration from the Middle East. Further waves of immigrants came to Sweden from the former Yugoslav republics and more recently from Somalia. Immigrants from Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan settled in Sweden. There are several mosques in Sweden. Malma Mosque was built in 1984 and Uppsala Mosque in 1995.
More mosques were built in the 1920s, including the Stockholm Mosque (2000), Umeå Mosque (2006) and Fitzja Mosque (2007), Bangladesh Jame Mosque in Stockholm, Hanning (south Stockholm) Brandbergen Mosque, Skogas Mosque, Gothenburg (in Hessingen). Turki Mosque and Guraba Mosque are among them. The governments of Saudi Arabia and Libya have financed the construction of some of Sweden’s largest mosques. In the latest SOM survey by the University of Gothenburg in 2016, 53 percent of Swedes have a negative view of Islam, while 7 percent expressed a positive attitude, with 40 percent undecided. Islamic Cultural Center, Muslim Society, Women’s Association, Dawah Committee are working on evangelism, Quran education, community development in different parts of Sweden. Muslims living in Sweden are accustomed to respecting and obeying the laws and regulations of the country. They are determined to maintain communal harmony at any cost. He is showing his tolerance and patience even in the face of extreme provocation.
It is totally unacceptable to allow this heinous act that insults the sanctity and values of Islam. It is nothing but a hateful practice, which promotes hatred and racism and serves the agenda of extremism and terrorism. Rather than understanding between members of religious and other communities in different parts of the world, there is a risk of increased discrimination, intolerance and violence. Different ethnic groups of the world should come forward with the goal of spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence by rejecting hatred and extremism.

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