Swedes want to restrict Quran burnings

06-07-2023

Northern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Protesters burn Swedish flags to protest against Sweden over burning of the copy of Koran in Sweden. Photo EPA, Nadeem Khawar

If they threaten national security, Quran burnings should be banned, the Swedish Centre against Violent Extremism (CVE) argues. Therefore, it calls upon the government to amend its Public Order Act.

After an Iraqi refugee burned a Quran next to a mosque in Stockholm, fierce responses followed. The Swedish embassy in Baghdad, for example, was stormed by an angry mob.

And even though the Swedish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the former action in a statement on Sunday, the burnings remain legal in Sweden, Euractiv writes. The police cannot ban them because they fall under "freedom of speech."

In June, the Administrative Court of Appeal ruled that the police could only forbid the burnings if they led to concrete security risks. However, a general increased threat of terrorism in Sweden did not constitute a valid reason, according to the judges.

Quickly

However, more and more people want a law change so that police officers can ban the burnings, which have negative diplomatic consequences for Sweden as a whole.

The Swedish Civil Society's Activities Against Extremism (CVE), a government initiative against extremism and radicalisation, is one of these voices. "Change the Public Order Act and do it quickly", President Jonas Trolle said to Euractiv.

Trolle points out that the Swedish Constitution allows such bans, but the Public Order Act, which empowers authorities to intervene in threatening situations, does not. "And it is obvious that what is happening right now is really not good in relation to the risks for Sweden", he said, referring to the Constitution that allows bans in the case of "threats to national security."

Bible burning

As long as the burning of holy books is permitted, people want to use their "right to freedom of speech." The Swedish police have received three new applications for the burning of religious books, Vart Land writes.

One of the applications comes from a man in his 30s who wishes to burn a Torah and a Bible next to the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. He calls the action a response to the Koran burning and a "symbolic gathering for the freedom of expression."

The other requests are about the burning of a Quran and about some unknown religious contexts, STV reports.

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