Denmark passes law criminalising Quran-burning protests

The Quran

The Danish Parliament has passed legislation effectively criminalising Quran-burning protests.

A new law makes it illegal to burn, tear, or defile holy texts in public or online to widely disseminate them.

Offenders can risk a fine or jail term for as many as two years.

Following a heated debate among lawmakers on Thursday, the bill was passed prohibiting “inappropriate treatment of writings with significant importance for a recognised religious community.”

There were 94 votes in favour of the ban and 77 votes against in the 179-member Danish parliament.

While the three-party coalition government voted in favour of the bill, no coalition member stood to respond to opposition criticism during the debate in the parliament.

The Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre) were the only opposition party to vote for the bill.

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The Danish Justice Ministry said in a statement that the law is aimed to combat “systematic mockery,” which raises terror threat levels in Denmark.

“We must protect the security of Denmark and Danes,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said, adding: “That is why it is important that we now get better protection against the systemic desecrations we have seen for a long time.”

On the other hand, Inger Stojberg, leader of the Denmark Democrats, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency: “History will judge us harshly for this, and with good reason… What it all comes down to is whether a restriction on freedom of speech is determined by us, or whether it is dictated from the outside.”

But the country’s centre-right coalition government of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen argued that criticising religion would remain legal, as the bill would only have a marginal impact.

Back in August, when the government was proposing the changes, it said it wanted to send a signal to the world after witnessing over a few weeks 170 demonstrations, including Quran burnings in front of foreign embassies.

The bill was first introduced in August but was later amended due to concerns raised within the ruling coalition about freedom of speech.

It will become law following the formal signature of the Danish monarch, Queen Margre, who is expected to sign it later this month.

Earlier in August, members of the ultranationalist group Danske Patrioter, or Danish Patriots, burned a copy of the Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen.

The perpetrators chanted anti-Islamic slogans during the provocative act, which was carried out under police protection.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in response to the Islamophobic protests said Türkiye will never yield to provocations or threats.

“We will eventually teach Western monuments of arrogance that insulting Muslims is not freedom of thought,” Erdogan told members of the Justice and Development (AK) Party via a video message.

Türkiye will “show our reaction in the strongest way until a determined fight against terrorist organizations and enemies of Islam is carried out,” he added.

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