Denmark Enacts Law Against Desecration of Holy Texts

religious texts-Denmark

Respecting faith: A balancing act. Image: Mingazov Firdus

THE Danish parliament recently ratified a law to curb the desecration of religious texts, primarily aimed at preventing Quran burnings in the country. This legislation marks a significant move against the inappropriate treatment of sacred writings, carrying penalties of fines or imprisonment of up to two years for offenders.

Law and Religion

The bill, passed with 94 votes in favour among the 179-member Danish parliament, seeks to safeguard writings of significant religious importance to recognised religious communities. Acts like burning, tearing, or defiling these texts in public, including disseminating such actions online, will now be punishable by law.

Denmark’s Justice Ministry emphasizes that the law aims to combat the growing trend of deliberate disrespect, which has amplified security concerns within the nation. Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard underlined the importance of safeguarding against systematic desecration that has persisted for an extended period.

Freedom Balanced

However, the law has sparked debates regarding its potential restriction on freedom of expression within the country. Critics, including members of both left-leaning and right-leaning political spectrums, argue that it might curb this fundamental freedom and suggest it could be influenced by external pressures.

The new legislation also faces scrutiny internationally, particularly concerning Denmark’s historical stance on freedom of speech. While the government reaffirms the importance of allowing room for religious criticism, the law draws a line against actions that disrespect or damage the religious sentiments of others.

Religious Sensitivities

Denmark, a nation previously embroiled in controversy over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, aims to reinforce respect for religious beliefs without compromising free speech. As the bill awaits formal approval by Queen Margrethe, its enforcement is expected to occur later this month, signifying Denmark’s commitment to preserving religious sanctity while navigating the complexities of freedom of expression in modern society.

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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!