Denmark tightens border control after Quran burnings

Anders Tang Friborg (back C), under-secretary for foreign policy at Denmark's ministry of foreign affairs, chairs a crisis team meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 1 August , 2023. The ministry of foreign affairs' crisis team and the international operational staff have been activated to handle international reactions to the burning of the Muslim holy book in Denmark

Denmark is tightening border controls to boost domestic security and prevent unwanted individuals from entering the country after recent Quran burnings, the government said, following a similar decision by Sweden this week.

Authorities fear revenge attacks after anti-Islam activists in Denmark and Sweden burned and damaged several copies of the Muslim holy book in recent months, inciting outrage in the Muslim world and demands that governments ban such acts.

"Authorities have today concluded that it is necessary at this time to increase the focus on who is entering Denmark, in order to respond to the specific and current threats," the Danish justice ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

Passengers arriving at Copenhagen Airport, even from within Europe's free-movement Schengen area, will face greater scrutiny in the form of random checks, police said.

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Travellers coming from Sweden by train or car should also expect more checks, while Denmark's southern border with Germany will see an increase in patrols.

A small group of Danish far-right activists has burned at least ten copies of the Quran in the past week and said it plans to burn more Qurans at two demonstrations on Friday and at three more events over the weekend.

The Danish and Swedish governments have condemned the burnings and 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.

Denmark's tighter border controls will initially be in place until 10 August.

"The recent Quran burnings have, as the security police have said, affected the current security situation," Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said.

The decision to tighten border controls follows a similar move by Sweden.

Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen late on Thursday said religious texts should not be burned.

"I think it would be wrong if someone stood there and burned the Bible. I also don't think we should burn the Torah for the sake of those who belong to the Jewish faith," Frederiksen told public broadcaster DR.

Muslims view the Quran as the literal word of God and actual or alleged desecration of the holy book often sparks protests in the Muslim world.