Denmark Faces Backlash After Quran Burning

The Quran

Protesters gather outside the Danish embassy in Baghdad after a copy of the Quran was burned in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen Image: Shutterstock/ Billion Photos

RECENT protests and demonstrations have erupted in response to the burning of the Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Denmark, triggering widespread condemnation and calls for a reconsideration of freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate. The incident has escalated tensions between Iraq and Denmark, leading to the withdrawal of Danish embassy staff from Baghdad. Several other countries, including Turkey and Algeria, have also expressed their outrage and condemnation over the desecration of the holy book, highlighting the need for a delicate balance between freedom of expression and respecting religious sensitivities.

The Incident and Its Aftermath

The incident occurred when two anti-Islam protesters set fire to a copy of the Quran outside the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen. Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen swiftly condemned the act, emphasising that such provocative and shameful actions did not reflect the views of the Danish government. He called on all parties to de-escalate the situation, commenting that violence must never be the response to such controversies.

But according to reports from Danish media, the Danish authorities have come under scrutiny for their handling of the Quran burning incident. Allegedly, not only did they provide security for the individuals involved in the burning of the Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy, but they also took a controversial step by arresting and charging a woman who attempted to intervene and save the holy book. This action has sparked outrage and raised questions about the authorities’ stance on freedom of expression and the protection of religious symbols. Critics argue that arresting someone for attempting to protect a sacred religious text appears to contradict the values of tolerance and respect for diverse beliefs that Denmark upholds.

Iraqi Response and Embassy Closure

Iraq reacted strongly to the Quran burning, with large protests erupting across the country, including the setting alight of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad. In response to the escalating tensions and for the safety of its personnel, Denmark decided to withdraw its embassy staff from Iraq. The exact reason and timing of the departure were not explicitly stated, but it is believed to be in response to the ongoing protests. Protests are ongoing in Yemen and Pakistan.


Iraq’s Plea to EU Countries

In the wake of these events, Iraq’s foreign ministry has called on authorities of European Union countries to reconsider what they refer to as ‘so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.’ This plea comes as a result of the deeply hurtful nature of the Quran burning and the subsequent protests, which have raised questions about the limits of free speech and the need to respect religious beliefs and symbols.

Turkish, Algerian, and International Reactions

Turkey, Algeria, and other countries in the Islamic world expressed their fury and condemnation over the Quran burning incident in Copenhagen. Turkey strongly condemned the ‘despicable attack’ on the holy book and called on Denmark to take necessary measures to prevent such acts of hate against Islam. Algeria summoned the Danish and Swedish envoys to formally protest the desecration of the Quran in both Copenhagen and Stockholm, firmly condemning these immoral and uncivil acts that target the sacred beliefs of Muslims worldwide. The country emphasised that such actions are contrary to the values of tolerance and co-existence and only serve to fuel hatred and Islamophobia.

As the situation continues to unfold, it remains crucial to strike a balance between respecting the right to freedom of speech and ensuring that such liberties are not used as a means to incite hatred or offend religious sensitivities. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the need for sensitivity and understanding in the global community to foster a more harmonious and respectful coexistence.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!