Western Europe is currently experiencing a wave of public desecrations of the Quran. In the Netherlands, the leader of PEGIDA tore pages from the Quran and trampled them. In Denmark and Sweden, activists have on several occasions burned copies of the Quran in front of buildings belonging to Islamic organizations.
What is striking is that the authorities in these countries have acted as mere bystanders, claiming that they are powerless to deal with such activities. They argue that the desecration of the Quran is a reprehensible act, but that it is legal and therefore cannot be stopped. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson recently said, “It can be legal and still be horrible.”
Many Muslims in the countries concerned and around the world are outraged by the authorities’ passive attitude and are calling on them to act. In July, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution, introduced by Pakistan and Palestine, condemning such desecration and calling on states to close the legal loopholes that prevent them from tackling it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been a vocal critic of the Swedish authorities’ refusal to stop such desecrations. This raises the stakes considerably, as Sweden’s accession to NATO has yet to be ratified by the Turkish parliament. President Erdoğan has indicated that this is unlikely to happen as long as copies of the Quran are being burned. Thus, the question of whether the Swedish authorities are right to claim that their hands are tied has become politically important.
Read more on Politics Today: The European Convention on Human Rights Bans Desecrating the Quran