Denmark has announced that it will explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of holy texts such as the Quran and the Bible, citing security concerns after a backlash over such incidents that saw the Muslim holy book desecrated in Denmark and Sweden.
The Danish government said in a statement that it wants to intervene in situations where “other countries, cultures and religions are being insulted, and where this could have significant negative consequences for Denmark, not least with regard to security”. It added that such protests played into the hands of extremists and could have “significant consequences”.
The decision follows several recent protests involving desecrations of the Quran by far-right activists in Denmark and Sweden, which have sparked widespread outrage and diplomatic tensions throughout the Muslim world. Muslims see the burning of the Quran as a desecration of sacred scripture and an unacceptable act.
The Danish government noted that the protests had “reached a level where Denmark, in many parts of the world across continents, is being viewed as a country that facilitates insult and denigration of the cultures, religions, and traditions of other countries” . It stressed that any measure taken “must, of course, be done within the framework of the constitutionally protected freedom of expression and in a manner that does not change the fact that freedom of expression in Denmark has very broad scope”.
Tighter border controls will initially be in place until August 10, the Danish justice ministry said, following a similar move by Sweden earlier in the week. Both governments have condemned the burnings and said they are considering new laws that could stop them. But domestic critics say any such decisions would undermine freedom of speech that is protected in their constitutions.
The Swedish prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, said he had been in close contact with his Danish counterpart, Mette Frederiksen, and that a similar process was already under way in Sweden. He said he had ordered 15 government agencies to strengthen the country’s ability to prevent terrorism in response to a worsened security situation.
The public burnings in front of the Iraqi, Egyptian and Turkish embassies in the Scandinavian countries have led to several Middle Eastern nations summoning Danish and Swedish envoys. The United Nations Human Rights Council also approved a resolution on religious hatred and bigotry following several burnings.