COPENHAGEN: Five anti-Islam activists set fire to a Qur’an in front of the Egyptian embassy in Copenhagen on Tuesday, the third such incident in Denmark in less than a week, following Qur’an burnings in nearby Sweden that enraged Muslims.
Denmark and Sweden have said they deplore the burning of the Qur’an but cannot prevent it under rules protecting free speech. Last week, protesters in Iraq set the Swedish embassy in Baghdad ablaze.
Tuesday’s demonstration in Copenhagen by a group called “Danish Patriots” followed Qur’an burnings the group staged on Monday and last week in front of the Iraqi embassy. Two such incidents have taken place in Sweden over the past month.
Iraq’s foreign ministry on Monday called on authorities of European Union countries to “quickly reconsider so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate” in light of the Qur’an burnings.
Turkiye on Monday said it strongly condemned what it called a “despicable attack” on the Qur’an and called on Denmark to take necessary measures to prevent this “hate crime” against Islam.
The Danish government has condemned the burnings as “provocative and shameful acts” but says it does not have the power to block non-violent demonstrators.
“People benefit from an extended freedom of speech when they demonstrate,” University of Copenhagen law Professor Trine Baumbach told Reuters, explaining Danish laws. “It does not just include verbal expression. People can express themselves in various ways, such as through the burning of items.”
Meanwhile, Egypt summoned Sweden’s chargé d’affaires to condemn incidents where copies of the Qur’an have been burned, the foreign ministry’s spokesperson said on Tuesday afternoon.
Egypt informed the chargé d’affaires of its “strong condemnation and complete rejection … of the unfortunate and repeated incidents of burning and abuse of copies of the Holy Qur’an,” the statement added.