Egypt denounces right-wing extremists’ burning of Holy Quran in Sweden

Amr Kandil , Monday 18 Apr 2022

Egypt condemned the desecration of the Quran by a group of right-wing extremists in Sweden, saying the act has “inflamed the feelings of Muslims around the world during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Egyptian foreign ministry


The incident is part of the far-right practices that incite against migrants and Muslims in particular, read a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry on Monday. 

During the weekend, the Danish far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party live-streamed a video of its Danish-Swedish extremist leader Rasmus Paludan burning a copy of the Quran in southern Sweden’s Linkoping.

The anti-Islam, anti-migrant party, established in 2017, staged this act more than once in 2020.

“Egypt stresses its rejection of assaults to all religious principles and beliefs and to the rise of provocative practices against human values ​​and principles,” the foreign ministry added.

The ministry urged the respect of the right to freedom of religion and belief as a pillar of human rights and called for upholding tolerance, acceptance of others, and peaceful coexistence among peoples.

The statement reiterated Egypt's rejection of calls for incitement and hatred and called for halting violence, sabotage, and the provocative actions that harm societal stability, security, and peace.

Dozens of people, including police officers, were injured and dozens others arrested when police clashed with hundreds of protesters in several cities who demonstrated against Paludan’s plans to burn more copies of the Quran.

Riot and unrest rippled through many Swedish cities, including Orebro, Norrkoping, Linkoping, and Malmo, as protesters reportedly threw stones at policemen and set a number of police vehicles ablaze.

Paludan announced cancelling a Sunday demonstration in Norrkoping and Linkoping, where unrest was heightened due to his Quran burning plans, saying authorities have “shown that they are completely incapable of protecting themselves and me.”

International condemnation

Many Muslim countries have condemned the right extremists’ burning of the Quran, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.

Malaysia also condemned the incident, saying it went beyond moral limits and norms of the right to freedom of speech and expression. The Malaysian foreign ministry said it will continue to work closely with fellow members of the international community to prevent and eradicate Islamophobic sentiments and religious extremism.

The Iraqi foreign ministry summoned the Swedish envoy to protest against the incident, warning that the act “has serious repercussions on the relations between Sweden and Muslims in general, whether in Islamic and Arab countries or in Muslim societies in Europe."

Saudi Arabia described burning the Quran as "barbaric", calling for concerted efforts to spread the values of dialogue, tolerance, coexistence, and to renounce hatred, extremism, and exclusion.

The Muslim World League (MWL) called on Muslims in Sweden and around the world to exercise restraint and adhere to wise Islamic faith and values that advocate shunning violence and hatred. The MWL urged Muslim people to let the chance slip away from those seeking to spread extremist thoughts. 

The Arab Parliament called for enacting international legislation that criminalises the incitement of hate, discrimination, and anti-Islam practices.

In a Monday statement, the Arab Parliament cited the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) resolution proclaiming 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia as an important step to fight against denigration of Islam and Muslims.

The parliament added that assaults against Islam and religious beliefs serve the agenda of extremists who reject tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

Al-Azhar, the 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Muslim learning, also condemned Paludan’s burning of the Quran. 

On Saturday, Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism warned extremist right-wing groups against the consequences of carrying out such actions “to achieve political or personal gains at the expense of the peace and cohesion of societies.”

“Such crimes provoke and inflame the feelings of more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world,” said the observatory, which follows up on Muslim conditions worldwide and issues periodical reports on extremism-related topics.

The observatory also warned that such abuses contribute to “igniting the fire of sedition and conflicts among the people of the one nation,” adding that “sanctities are a red line and should not be insulted or violated.”

Paludan, a lawyer and YouTuber, plans to stand in Swedish legislative elections next September but does not yet have the necessary number of signatures to secure his candidature.

He represented his hardline Stram Kurs Party in the latest Danish elections in 2019 but failed to win a seat as the party received only 1.8 percent of the vote.

In 2020, Paludan, born in Denmark’s North Zealand, was banned from entering Belgium for a year over his plan to burn the Quran in Brussels and was expelled from France due to similar plans.

In August 2020, he was also banned from entering Sweden for two years over plans to burn the Quran in Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city. However, he was granted Swedish citizenship in October of the same year because his father is Swedish.

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