The Danish government has announced its intention to introduce a bill that would make it illegal to burn or desecrate holy books, such as the Quran, the Bible, or the Torah, in public places. The proposed legislation is a response to the recent incidents of Quran burning by far-right activists in Denmark and Sweden, which have sparked outrage and protests in several Muslim countries.
The justice minister, Peter Hummelgaard, said that the bill would prohibit the “inappropriate treatment of objects of significant religious importance to a religious community”. He added that the bill was motivated by national security reasons, as the Quran burning acts have been used by extremists to incite violence and hatred. He also said that there were more civilized ways to express one’s views than burning things.
The bill would extend the existing ban on burning foreign flags to religious items, and would carry a penalty of fines or up to two years in prison. The bill is expected to be presented to the parliament soon, where it will need the support of a majority of lawmakers to pass. The government coalition has 88 seats out of 179, and also relies on the backing of four representatives from the semi-autonomous territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
The foreign minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said that the bill would send an “important political signal” to the rest of the world, and that Denmark respected all religions and their followers. He also urged other countries to condemn any acts of violence or vandalism against religious symbols or places of worship.
The Quran burning incidents have been carried out by far-right groups and individuals, such as Rasmus Paludan, who is known for his anti-Islamic stunts and views. He has been banned from entering Sweden for two years after he attempted to burn a Quran near a mosque in Malmo last year. The act triggered riots and clashes between protesters and police .