Joe-Lize's comment – Ban on Quran burning should not be necessary but it might just be

Pakistani traders shout slogans as they attend a protest against the burning of a copy of the Koran in Sweden. An Iraqi refugee living in Sweden set fire to a copy of the Koran during a protest in front of a mosque in Stockholm on 28 June 2023. Photo EPA, Arshad Arbab

Setting fire to a Quran is not a nice thing to do. It hurts people unnecessarily. Yet people keep doing it. Time for intervention.

I have always been taught: don't play with fire. It is dangerous, and it can have devastating effects that you may not have foreseen. And the Swedish activists Rasmus Paludan and Salwan Momika experienced exactly this kind of unexpected consequences when they set a Quran on fire. Were their actions worth all of this?

Rasmus Paludan is a nationalist politician from Sweden, known for his anti-Islamic views. Salwan Momika describes himself as an Iraqi refugee with a critical view of Islam. Both wanted to make this very clear to the outside world and decided to light the book that is so holy to Muslims.

The consequences were huge. Not only did Muslims all over the world take to the streets to burn Swedish flags, but also governments, such as the Turkish regime, showed explicit disdain and even blocked Sweden from joining NATO for a long time.


Many have asked the question: was this all worth it? Why does Sweden not ban Quran burnings when they endanger national security? Others objected because banning the actions would be a capitulation to despotic Islamic regimes and be a limitation of the so much-valued freedom of expression and speech.

Especially in our liberal democracies, we, as citizens, feel that we have many rights and limited duties. Often, the attitude is: "I want to do what I desire, and everyone and everything around me has to help me achieve that. Otherwise, my rights will be infringed upon."


Yet, especially as Christians, our opinion should be different for two reasons. The first is that we ought to know that even though we do have some fundamental freedoms, these liberties must be limited to prevent excesses.

For example, the right to freedom of religion is very important, also for Christians, so we can live and worship as the Bible teaches us to. However, when a religion calls for the killing of other people, believers cannot just go around and murder their neighbours. In that sense, their rights are restricted, and rightly so.

Holocaust denial

The same applies to freedom of speech. Of course, it is a bad thing if a government silences all opposing voices. That leads to a dictatorship. Yet, we cannot go around and say everything we like. Just recently, the Dutch government explicitly forbade Holocaust denial. Even though people do have the right to express their opinion, it is forbidden to say the mass murder of Jews during the Second World War never happened. And I think the government is correct in banning this. After all, the Holocaust did take place, and it would be a lie to say it did not.

Furthermore, even if we, in theory, have certain liberties because of the Charter of Human Rights, that does not mean we must always exercise these freedoms. We hush our children when they point at someone in the supermarket and yell that the person is ugly. Also, we have the duty to warn people when they curse and abuse the Name of God, even though this is not forbidden by law in many liberal countries.


Therefore, in theory, it should not be necessary to introduce an explicit ban on Quran burning. People ought to live according to the principle: Love God above all and your neighbour as yourself. Don't do to other people what you would not like to be done to you.

Considering Quran burnings, I strongly believe that these actions are not the right thing to do. Even though I am not a Muslim and do not believe in the Quran, I don't think it is right to show opposition to Islam by burning its holy book. Hurting people on purpose is not a Biblical thing to do and certainly not in line with loving your neighbour as yourself.

Unfortunately, the idyllic picture that people should just be nice to each other is unrealistic. Since the Fall, man's nature has been depraved, and all of us are capable of committing the worst evil. That is why we need laws to keep us in check. When our conscience is not always able to keep us from wrongdoing, sometimes, negative consequences stipulated by the Criminal Code will. The government has been appointed by God to operate the sword of justice. As there will always be crimes, this is absolutely necessary. Maybe the Swedish government should consider how to fulfill its duty to remind its citizens of the Biblical commandment of love.

Joe-Lize Kruijsse-Brugge (1999) has been working as a journalist since 2020.

Joe-Lize Kruijsse-Brugge

She started her career with the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad as a reporter on domestic affairs. Before that, she studied Liberal Arts and Sciences at Utrecht University.

Since 2021, she has worked as an editor for CNE.news.

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