Why Does Sweden Allow Burning of Holy Books, Deeply Hurting Religious Sentiments
Just days after the United Nations approved a resolution to address, prevent and prosecute acts and advocacy of religious hatred, Swedish authorities have once again “permitted a protest”, this time involving burning of Torahs and Bibles in Stockholm.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) in a strong worded statement condemned Sweden, saying provocative, racist, anti-Semitic and sickening acts such as these have no place in any civilized society. “Stamping on the deepest religious and cultural sensibilities of people is the clearest expression possible to send a message that minorities are unwelcome and unrespected. These actions, based on contorted and specious free speech arguments are a disgrace to Sweden and any democratic government worthy of the name should prevent it.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog unequivocally condemned the permission granted in Sweden to burn the holy books. “As the President of Israel, I condemned the burning of the Quran, sacred to Muslims world over, and I am now heartbroken that the same fate awaits a Jewish Bible, the eternal book of the Jewish people,” he tweeted. “Permitting the defacement of sacred texts is not an exercise in freedom of expression, it is blatant incitement and an act of pure hate. The whole world must join together in condemning unequivocally this repulsive act.”
Ahmednasir Abdullahi, a constitutional lawyer and senior counsel, pointed out that Sweden is unfortunately becoming a country where Holy Books are burned for fun in order to hurt and inflame passions.
The Stockholm police gave green light to three people wanting to protest outside the Israeli Embassy and burn the Holy Books. People in Sweden have the right to hold public demonstrations and are strongly protected in the country’s constitution. But it also protects the freedom to practice one’s religion alone or in the company of others, and “prohibits discrimination based on religion”. The Swedish law provides a mechanism for registering complaints of discrimination based on religion.