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Danish parliament passes law making it illegal to burn Koran and other religious texts

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Denmark’s parliament passed a new law Thursday making it illegal to blaspheme any holy book in the country, following a series of recent incidents. public desecration of the Quran It sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries by a small number of anti-Muslim activists.

The Scandinavian country has been seen abroad as a place that promotes insults and denigrations of other countries’ cultures, religions, and traditions. The law was aimed, among other things, to counter “systematic ridicule” that has helped to intensify the threat of terrorism in Denmark, the Ministry of Justice said.

“We must keep Denmark and Danes safe,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said in a statement. “That’s why it’s important that we now have better protection against the systematic desecration we’ve seen for years.”

The Folketing (parliament) adopted the law by a vote of 94 to 77, with eight members absent. The new law makes it a crime to “mishandle, with intent to disseminate publicly or to a wider audience, any work that has, or appears to have, a religious significance important to a religious community.” Works of art that contain “small parts” of profanity but are part of a larger work of art are not subject to the ban.

During more than four hours of debate, left-wing and far-right parties united against the center-right government and repeatedly called for the withdrawal of the three-party coalition that submitted the draft. August 25th, join the discussion. The government said nothing and was called a “coward” by the opposition.

“Is Iran changing its laws because Denmark is offended by what Iranians can do? Pakistan too? Saudi Arabia? The answer is no,” said Karina Lorentzen of the Socialist People’s Party rhetorically. asked. Inger Støjberg, from the anti-immigration Danish Democratic Party, said the new law was a capitulation to Islam and to countries that “do not share[our]values.”

“In a modern, enlightened society like Denmark, restrictions on freedom of expression are wrong,” Støjberg said.

Activists have staged more than 500 protests this year alone, including burning Qurans in front of embassies, places of worship, and immigrant areas in Islamic countries.

Denmark has repeatedly distanced itself from blasphemy, but has maintained that freedom of expression is one of the most important values ​​in Danish society. The government said there should be “room for religious criticism” and there were no plans to reintroduce the blasphemy clause, which was abolished in 2017.

Osama Elsaadi, an iman with a mosque in Denmark’s second-largest city Aarhus, told BT newspaper that this was “a good message for all Muslims”.

“Burning the Quran is an insult to others,” he said, according to BT. “You can express your thoughts freely, but not in a way that destroys the lives of others.”

In 2006, Denmark became the center of widespread anger in the Muslim world after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, including one with a bomb wrapped as a turban. Muslims consider statues of the Prophet to be blasphemous and encourage idolatry. These images escalated into violent anti-Danish protests by Muslims around the world.

Violations of the new law are punishable by fines or up to two years in prison. Before the bill can take effect, it must be formally signed by Denmark’s great monarch, Queen Margrethe. That is expected to happen later this month.

Similar damage has occurred in neighboring Sweden. burning of the quran Swedish news agency TT reported that a government-appointed inquiry will decide whether to review the police ordinance in the event of a request for a protest involving the destruction of holy scriptures.

Swedish police should be able to consider threats to national security when reviewing applications for public gatherings involving blasphemy, which is expected to be completed by July 1 next year, TT said. .

Sweden has no laws specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of the Koran or other religious texts.Like many Western countries, Sweden has blasphemy law.

Conflicting fundamental principles complicate Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Joining NATO, which has become more urgent in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, requires the approval of all current member states. Turkey has been blocking Sweden’s membership since last year, citing anti-Turkish and anti-Islam demonstrations in Stockholm and other reasons.

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