Protests over Quran burning in Sweden, the Netherlands

Wednesday 01st February 2023 05:48 EST

Beirut: Protests were held in several predominantly Muslim countries to denounce the recent desecration of Quran by far-right activists in Sweden and the Netherlands.

In Pakistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, among other nations, the protests came to an end with a calm dispersal of the crowds. Police in Islamabad stopped some protesters who were marching in the direction of the Swedish embassy.

The Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party gathered about 12,000 supporters in Lahore to protest the two European nations' destruction of the Quran. TLP leader Saad Rizvi urged the government to lodge a strong protest with Sweden and the Netherlands in his remarks to the protesters. Similar rallies were also held in Karachi and in northwest Pakistan. In Beirut, 200 angry protesters burned the flags of Sweden and the Netherlands outside the blue-domed Mohammed Al-Amin mosque at Beirut’s central Martyrs Square.

Police gave approval for a far-right extremist from Denmark to hold a protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm earlier this month during which he burnt the Quran. Days later, near the Dutch parliament, Edwin Wagensveld, the Dutch head of the extreme right-wing Pegida movement, tore pages out of a copy of the Quran and trampled on them. Protests were sparked by the actions, which infuriated millions of Muslims around the world.

Swedish government have emphasised that freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Swedish Constitution and gives people extensive rights to express their views publicly. Iraq’s powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that freedom of speech does not mean offending other people’s beliefs. The cleric added that burning the Quran “will bring divine anger.” Hundreds of his supporters gathered outside a mosque in Baghdad waving copies of the Quran.

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