The Danish government has presented a bill to Parliament criminalising the burning of religious scriptures publicly.
The action is being taken specifically to criminalise the burning of the Bible or the Quran, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry.
“As a result of recent Quran burnings, Denmark is increasingly seen in large parts of the world as a country that facilitates insulting and denigrating actions against other countries and religions,” the statement added.
The bill will not cover verbal or written expressions, including drawings, but it targets actions that are performed in a public place or with the purpose of wider distribution.
“These insulting and disparaging actions negatively impact the security of Danes, both abroad and at home in Denmark,” said Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard.
He noted that this specifically means that “it will be a punishable criminal offense” to publicly burn, for instance, the Bible or the Quran.
Deputy Prime Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen noted that burning, damaging or otherwise destroying the holy scriptures of others “serves no other purpose than to provoke for the sake of provocation.”
“It has put Denmark in a difficult situation abroad. The Government cannot sit idly by. Books are not to be burned – they are to be read,” he added.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Lars Lookke Rasmussen said that Quran burnings in Denmark have reached a level “where Denmark in large parts of the world is seen as a country that supports the insult and denigration of other countries and religions.”
“I am pleased that we now have a model on the table that will allow us to put a stop to the kind of insult and denigration we are currently witnessing in Denmark,” added Rasmussen.
The bill will undergo a four-week public consultation process and is expected to be ready for introduction during the opening week of the forthcoming parliamentary session.
“As there is a risk that the situation may quickly change, the Government wishes to introduce the bill on 1 September 2023 so that, if necessary, it can be considered and adopted before the end of the current parliamentary session,” the official statement added.
Meanwhile, the Swedish prime minister voiced respect for Denmark’s step toward criminalising the public desecration of religious scriptures.
“I have great respect for what Denmark is doing,” Ulf Kristersson said in a news conference, according to local media.
He said that Sweden and Denmark have different laws but that countries that are exposed to terror threats must take measures.
He added that his country would have to amend the Constitution should it choose to follow Denmark’s move.
Sweden and Denmark have received wide-ranging criticism from Muslims all over the world over allowing the public desecration of the Quran held under police protection.
Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party, burned copies of the Quran in the Swedish cities of Malmo, Norrkoping, and Jonkoping as well as in the capital Stockholm during Easter holiday last year.
On January 21, he burned copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden and on January 27 outside the Turkish Embassy in Denmark.
Iraqi-born refugee Salwan Momika burned a copy of the Muslim holy book outside a mosque in the Swedish capital of Stockholm on January 28 and during Eid al-Adha.
On July 20, outside of the Iraqi Embassy in Sweden, he threw a copy of the Quran and the Iraqi flag on the ground and stepped on them. He later burned a Quran outside of the Swedish parliament on July 31.
Momika, also staged another Quran burning outside the Iranian Embassy in Stockholm early in August.
And Iranian immigrant Bahrami Marjan held the same provocative acts in Angbybadet, Stockholm on August 3.