The Danish government is looking into “a legal tool” that would enable authorities to prevent protesters outside embassies from burning the Muslim holy book, the Quran, in the Nordic country.
Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told the national broadcaster DR on Sunday that the government was studying the scope for intervention to prevent such acts.
The news comes as many Muslim countries have protested the desecration of the Quran at demonstrations held in Denmark and Sweden in recent weeks.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq have called upon the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene on Monday to address Quran desecration in both Nordic countries. Several Muslim nations have also launched campaigns to boycott Swedish products.
What did the Danish foreign minister say?
Denmark and Sweden have both deplored the burning of the holy book of Islam. Yet, they stressed their hands were tied against the Nordic countries’ rules protecting free speech.
In a statement on Sunday, Rasmussen said the government was studying the scope for intervention “in special situations where, for instance, other countries, cultures, and religions are being insulted, and where this could have significant negative consequences for Denmark, not least with regard to security.”
“The burnings are deeply offensive and reckless acts committed by few individuals. These few individuals do not represent the values the Danish society is built on,” he said.
Rasmussen stressed that any measure taken would fall “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 [a] very broad scope.”
What did Sweden say?
Meanwhile, Swedish Prime Ulf Kristersson said on Sunday that he held talks with Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen, where both leaders agreed the situation was dangerous.
“We need to take measures to strengthen our resilience,” Kristenrsson said in a post on Instagram. “Ultimately it is about defending our free and open societies, our democracy and our citizens’ right to freedom and security.”
The outrage from the Quran desecration has been particularly problematic for Sweden, whose bid to join NATO had been blocked by Turkey for nearly a year, over accusations of hosting terrorists. Turkey has often been among the loudest protesters against burning Qurans.
On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan urged Stockholm to take concrete steps to prevent Quran burnings, as per a report by the Reuters news agency citing a foreign ministry source. Fidan spoke during a phone call with Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom, during which Sweden’s NATO accession was also discussed.
Earlier this month, the Swedish government said it would look into the possibility of amending the Public Order Act in a manner which makes it possible for the police to stop demonstrations which threaten the country’s security.