Denmark's parliament adopts law banning Koran burnings

AFP , Thursday 7 Dec 2023

Denmark's parliament on Thursday adopted a law criminalising the "inappropriate treatment" of religious texts, effectively banning Koran burnings after a series of desecrations of Islam's holy book sparked anger in Muslim countries over the summer.

Peter Hummelgaard
Denmark s Minister of Justice Peter Hummelgaard talks to the media after a vote for a new law against inappropriate treatment of writings of importance to religious communities, in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 7, 2023. AFP


The bill, which prohibits "inappropriate treatment of writings with significant religious importance for a recognised religious community", was passed with 94 votes in favour and 77 opposed in the 179-seat Folketing.

In practical terms, it will be forbidden to burn, tear, or otherwise defile holy texts publicly or in videos intended to be disseminated widely.

Those who break the law risk a fine or up to two years in prison.

Over the summer, Denmark and neighbouring Sweden became the focus of anger across several Muslim countries after a slew of protests involving burnings and desecrations of the Koran.

Nearly a thousand protesters attempted to march to the Danish embassy in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone in late July following a call by firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr.
In response to the worsened security situation, the Scandinavian country temporarily tightened border controls but returned to normal on August 22.

Between July 21 and October 24 this year, 483 book burnings or flag burnings were recorded in Denmark, according to national police figures.

Initially announced at the end of August, the bill was amended following criticism that its first draft limited freedom of expression and would be difficult to enforce.

It was originally planned to cover objects of significant religious importance.

The first draft of the bill was criticised by some -- including politicians, artists, media and freedom of speech experts -- who saw it as a return to a blasphemy law that Denmark abolished in 2017.

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