How Denmark deals with Quran burning


Northern Europe


Rasmus Paludan, known for his Quran burnings, listens to the Danish Parliament as it discusses the ban on Quran burnings in an earlier reading. Photo EPA, Mads Claus Rasmussen

The Danish Parliament adopted a law that forbids "inappropriate handling" of religious texts last week. The ban comes after a series of Quran burnings in the country, which caused global unrest.

Religious texts may not be torn apart or burned under the new law, the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad reported. Anyone violating the law risks a fine or a jail term of up to two years. The ban will most likely come into force sometime this week.

In total, 94 MPs voted in favour, while 77 opposed the proposal. However, the criticism was fierce, TV2 reported. Almost the entire opposition showed its dismay at the proposal. Conservative MP Mai Mercado believed that the law gave in to radical Muslims who had demanded a ban on Quran burnings. Therefore, she argued, the Quran is placed above the Constitution and the Bible. Pernille Vermund, MP for the liberal Nye Borgerliges party, accused the cabinet of taking Islamic laws home from the climate summit in Dubai. Vermund and some others demanded that the issue be decided by a referendum. Freedom of expression is very important in Denmark, and some fear that a ban on Quran burnings will interfere with this right.

Last summer, Denmark struggled with several Quran burnings. They caused unrest in countries with a large Muslim population. For example, in Iraq, a furious mob tried to go to the Danish embassy to show their anger about the events.


The question remains whether the ban helps to prevent such uprisings. Notorious Quran burner Rasmus Paludan is already looking for ways to circumvent the legislation, TV 2 reports.

Paludan argues that only Arabic Qurans are holy and that translations do not fall under the law, for example. In addition, he points out that burnings should still be possible if they are a minor part of an artistic work. Therefore, he created a play in which two people will discuss various forms of mockery of the Prophet Muhammad for 55 minutes. In the last five minutes of the show, they will burn a Quran and fry bacon. It is yet unclear whether Paludan's plans are illegal under the new law.


The Social Democratic Party in Sweden wants to copy the Danish legislation as Sweden, too, struggles with Quaran burnings, TV2 writes. However, Sweden's Justice Minister, Gunnar Strömmer, said that he is not planning to do so, Dagen writes. "We must protect our freedom of expression, and I do not see it as expedient to do as the Danes do. Nor is there broad support in Sweden for it."



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