Burning the Quran becomes illegal in Sweden


Northern Europe


Protests broke out everywhere in the world after anti-Muslim politician Rasmus Paludan burned a Quran in Sweden. Photo EPA, Shazaib Akber

In Sweden, burning the Quran will no longer be allowed. The police will no longer tolerate he act. At the same time, burning a Bible seems to be okay.

Burning a Quran poses threats to Sweden's security. Therefore, it is no longer allowed to do so, Dagen writes. After anti-Muslim leader Rasmus Paludan burned the holy book in Stockholm, there was international upheaval. The controversy became so big that Turkey blocked Sweden's joining NATO.

To introduce a ban, the police considered that Quran burnings might increase the risk of terrorist attacks. Thus, such an act could damage Sweden and Swedish interests, the law enforcement argued.


Consequently, the police have forbidden two demonstrations where a Quran burning would be part of the program. One of them would protest at the Turkish embassy to show opposition to Turkey's refusal to permit Sweden's entrance to NATO. The other one was from an individual who wanted to burn a Quran at the Iraqi embassy, Dagen writes. "As a rule in Stockholm, we will not allow burning the Quran during public gatherings, police spokesperson Ola Österling tells SVT Nyheter.

The ban only applies to burning Qurans. It does not mention other holy books, such as the Bible.


The decision of the police to ban Quran burnings has led to severe criticism. Nils Funcke, an expert in freedom of expression, worries that this decision might impact other requests for demonstrations as well. "It is possible to refuse permission in a specific situation, but it must then be based on the individual situation", he says to SVT Nyheter. "If one refers more generally to the fact that there is uncertainty around the world, we can hardly give permission for any expressions of opinion", he warns.

Susanne Nyström argues in DN that this practice gives the signal that the actor with the biggest capital of violence decides who gets to say what."

Law must be changed

Henrik Wenander, professor of public law and Lund University, says that the court will overturn the ban on Quran burning, as reported by SVT Nyheter. "If a demonstration is to be denied on the grounds stated by the police, the law must be changed", he thinks.

Police spokesperson Ola Österling says that the law enforcement officers are aware that the ban restricts freedom of expression. "We want to have it tested that our reasoning is legal", she acknowledges.



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