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Denmark Strikes to Ban Quran Burnings After Muslim Outrage

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Denmark’s authorities stated on Friday that it could transfer to criminalize the general public mistreatment of non secular objects, setting apart free-speech considerations with what one minister known as a “focused intervention” after a spate of public Quran desecrations brought about furors in lots of Muslim-majority international locations.

These discovered responsible of mistreating an object with main spiritual significance may very well be fined or sentenced to as much as two years in jail, based on a draft of a invoice revealed by the Danish Justice Ministry. Danish coalition officers stated they might enact the coverage as quickly as the top of the yr whether it is accepted by Parliament.

Each Denmark and neighboring Sweden have struggled to stability respect without spending a dime expression with the diplomatic fallout of the desecrations. Governments in lots of Muslim-majority international locations have issued withering condemnations, and authorities in each international locations have stated that the chance of terrorist assaults has risen in current months, posing a risk to nationwide safety.

After a small group of Danish nationalists filmed themselves burning what they stated was a Quran late final month, tons of of Iraqi protesters tried to storm Denmark’s embassy in Baghdad earlier than safety forces dispersed them. On Sunday, the Iranian authorities summoned Danish and Swedish diplomats to chastise them over one other sequence of desecrations in each international locations.

International Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen instructed reporters that there had been greater than 170 demonstrations, together with some with Quran burnings, in entrance of the embassies of Muslim-majority international locations and elsewhere in Denmark over the previous month. The protests, that are usually small, typically denounce Islam and Muslim immigration.

“This has put Denmark in a troublesome foreign-policy scenario,” Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the nation’s deputy prime minister, stated on Friday. “And the federal government can not simply sit and hearken to that.”

Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard characterised the proposal as a “focused invention” in opposition to Quran burnings that “harm the safety of Danes each overseas and at residence.” Presenting the measure on Friday, Mr. Hummelgaard pledged {that a} “very broad framework” for freedom of expression would stay in Denmark.

He stated the proposed legislation wouldn’t apply to clothes or satirical drawings, for instance, and wouldn’t constrain criticism of faith. “I believe there are extra civilized methods to specific your opinions than by burning issues down,” he stated.

Danish critics instantly slammed the invoice as an assault on the nation’s traditionally robust protections without spending a dime speech and as a capitulation to violence. The Liberal Alliance, which holds 14 of 179 seats in Parliament, stated it was “a tragic day for Danes and a very good day for extremists.”

Jacob Kaarsbo, an analyst at Suppose Tank Europa in Copenhagen, known as the invoice “an effort to achieve out to the Muslim mainstream” and tamp down tensions by exhibiting Muslim-majority international locations that Denmark was taking the issue critically.

“It’s in the end only a few folks which can be behind this, however they’re having an outsized impression,” Mr. Kaarsbo stated, referring to the Quran desecrations.

That is removed from Denmark’s first brush with controversy surrounding the boundaries of free speech and Islam. In 2005, a Danish newspaper revealed a number of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims thought-about blasphemous and that set off violent protests and assaults.

Far-right Scandinavian provocateurs have burned the Quran often for years to sign their opposition to Muslim immigration into international locations like Denmark. However tensions this yr started to rise after Rasmus Paludan, a right-wing nationalist and twin citizen of Sweden and Denmark, set a replica of the Quran ablaze in January.

In late June, Salwan Momika, an Iraqi immigrant to Sweden, burned a Quran outdoors a mosque in Stockholm. A Muslim man was later granted a allow to burn a Torah and a Bible outdoors the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm however didn’t comply with by way of. He later instructed reporters that his intention had been to not burn the scriptures however to underscore the abhorrent nature of such acts.

The governments of many Muslim international locations have fiercely denounced Denmark and Sweden for permitting the burning of Qurans. Each governments have repeatedly condemned the desecrations however stated they have been constrained by free-speech legal guidelines.

Sweden, which hopes to affix NATO, fears that the controversy might delay its membership. Turkey’s international minister stated final month that Stockholm’s lack of ability to “stop provocations” had raised questions on Sweden’s credentials for membership.

In mid-July, tons of of individuals stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad and set components of it on fireplace over the Swedish authorities’s determination to permit the desecrations. Iraq additionally expelled the Swedish ambassador and directed his Iraqi counterpart to withdraw from the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm.

Final month, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden described the safety scenario there as probably the most severe since World Warfare II. This month, Sweden’s home safety company raised its terrorism risk degree to “excessive,” the second-most extreme designation in a five-point scale.

Jasmina Nielsen contributed reporting from Copenhagen.

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