SWEDEN: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar have condemned the heart-breaking incidents of desecrating of Holy Qur’an in Sweden.
Police in Sweden say they have arrested at least 26 people in the wake of weekend clashes in the cities of Norrkoping and Linkoping against the planned burning of the holy Quran by a far-right group.
Eight people were arrested in Norrkoping and 18 others were held in Linkoping, police said in a statement on Monday, adding that protesters in Norrkoping numbering about 150 threw stones at officers and set cars on fire.
“Police fired several warning shots. Three people seem to have been hit by ricochets and are now being cared for in hospital,” police said about Norrkoping, adding none of the injuries was life-threatening. Twenty-six police officers and 14 civilians were injured, police added.
On Sunday, clashes erupted in both cities for the second time in four days over rallies by anti-immigration and anti-Islam group Hard Line, led by the Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan.
According to health services quoted by local news agency TT, 10 people were hospitalised with minor injuries following the clashes and similar unrest in Linkoping, where the far-right Hard Line also abandoned a demonstration.
The violence began after a demonstration was organised by Paludan. Police and protesters have been engaged in clashes over the past days beginning on Thursday, leading to injuries to several officers and the torching of multiple vehicles.
Paludan, who had permission for a series of demonstrations across Sweden during the Easter weekend, is known for Quran burnings. On Sunday, they rallied again to protest against another gathering, which in the end Paludan abandoned.
In the city of Malmo, a bus caught fire after unknown perpetrators threw a burning object at the vehicle, broadcaster SVT reported. Passengers managed to escape the vehicle before anyone was hurt.
Other vehicles and several dustbins were also set on fire in Malmo and police were pelted with stones and Molotov cocktails on Saturday night after far-right leader Paludan burned a Quran.
The Danish leader of the far-right Stram Kurs party has burned a copy of the holy Quran in a heavily-populated Muslim area in Sweden. Rasmus Paludan, accompanied by police, went to an open public space in southern Linkoping on Thursday and placed the Muslim holy book down and burned it while ignoring protests from onlookers.
About 200 demonstrators gathered in the square to protest. The group urged police not to allow the racist leader to carry out his action. After the police ignored the calls, incidents broke out and the group closed the road to traffic, pelting stones at police.
Similar anti-Muslim actions have been committed earlier by Danish far-right racist groups.
Paludan also burned the Quran in 2019, wrapping the Muslim holy book in bacon and tossed it in the air.
In September 2020, Paludan was banned from entering Sweden for two years.
Later in October, he was prevented from entering Germany for some time after the controversial anti-Muslim politician announced plans to hold a provocative demonstration in Berlin.
Pakistan condemns incidents
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday called upon the international community to take notice of the recent incidents of Islamophobia that took place in Sweden and the Netherlands.
“The people of Pakistan and Muslims around the world are deeply hurt by the recent incidents of Islamophobia in Sweden and the Netherlands,” he said in a tweet.
PM Shehbaz Sharif said the international community must condemn these incidents and stressed taking steps to check such “abhorrent behaviour”. He also emphasized standing united against Islamophobia.
Earlier, the Foreign Office in a statement had said that “these mindless provocative Islamophobic incidents served no purpose other than hurting the sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims living all over the world”.
“Such actions are not covered under legitimate expressions of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carry responsibilities under international human rights law, such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence,” the FO said
Pakistan on Monday condemned a Swedish far-right group’s desecration of the Holy Quran and offensive remarks passed by a Dutch politician, according to a statement issued from the Foreign Office (FO). “Pakistan strongly condemns the recent abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran during rallies in Sweden. Pakistan also strongly condemns the offensive remarks made by a Dutch politician, attacking Islam and the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.
“Pakistan’s concerns have been conveyed to the authorities in Sweden and the Netherlands. They have been urged to take cognisance of the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and the Muslims worldwide and take steps to prevent Islamophobic incidents,” the FO statement said.
Pakistan said such “provocative Islamophobic incidents” served no purpose other than hurting the sensitivities of the global Muslim community. “Such actions are not covered under legitimate expressions of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carry responsibilities under international human rights law such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence,” the statement said.
It added that Muslims everywhere unequivocally condemned the practice of insulting Islam, Christianity and Judaism and stood against all acts of violence on the basis of religion or belief. “These principles must be equally respected and supported by all,” the statement pointed out.
Pakistan said the international community needed to show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief, and work together for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence.
“We call on the international community to demonstrate solidarity and commitment to the ideals of building peaceful and harmonious societies for the betterment of humanity,” the FO urged.
Saudi Arabia condemns Saudi Arabia on Monday condemned the “deliberate” abuse of the Holy Qur’an, as well as provocations and incitement against Muslims by some extremists in Sweden.
In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of concerted efforts to spread the values of dialogue, tolerance, and coexistence.
The statement also emphasized renouncing hatred, extremism, and exclusion.
The Kingdom highlighted the efforts to prevent abuse of all religions and holy sites, the statement said.
In some places counter-protesters attacked police ahead of planned right-wing extremist demonstrations. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has condemned the violence.
Turkey denounced an Islamophobic attack in Sweden on Thursday in which protesters burned a copy of the holy Quran, characterizing it as a “disrespect”.
“We condemn the disrespect by a group of racist barbarians by burning our holy book, the Quran, in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It a positive step that Sweden did not allow those applying for a protest permit to attain one, the ministry said, but it stressed that Turkey regrets the provocative actions of members of a Danish racist party could not be prevented, even though their aims were well-known. “And these sick people continue to benefit from it,” it said.
Following a similar Islamophobic provocation last month, a far-right group burned a copy of the Quran in a heavily Muslim area of Sweden.
Members of the Danish far-right group, Stram Kurs, or Hard Line, burned the Muslim holy book in an illegal demonstration in the Rinkeby neighbourhood.
“Unfortunately, it is seen that disrespect for Islam has become widespread and cannot be prevented in Scandinavian countries in recent years under the guise of freedom of press, art, and expression,” the ministry said.
Qatar has strongly condemned the burning of copies of the Holy Quran by far right extremists in Malmo in Sweden. Qatar called the incident an act of incitement and a major provocation to the sensibilities of the world’s more than two billion Muslims.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement affirming Qatar’s total rejection of all forms of hate speech based on belief, race, or religion, and warning that this populist inflammatory rhetoric had taken a dangerous turn by continuing institutional and systematic calls for the world’s Muslims to be targeted repeatedly.
In this context, the Ministry urged the international community to take responsibility for renouncing hatred, discrimination, incitement, and violence, as well as to work toward a grassroots solution to the troubled relationship between freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, through dialogue and mutual understanding.