Swedish Court Overturns Ban on Quran Burning Protests

Tue Apr 04 2023
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STOCKHOLM: A Swedish court has overturned a police decision to ban two protests where demonstrators planned to burn copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

The move comes after a similar demonstration took place outside Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm in January, sparking weeks of protests and calls for a boycott of Swedish goods.

Five people with links to Islamic State were also arrested on Tuesday for planning a “terrorist act” in relation to the backlash over the holy Quran burning.

Swedish police had banned the two subsequent protests due to security concerns, arguing that the January demonstration had made Sweden a higher priority target for attacks.

However, the Stockholm Administrative Court overturned the decision, ruling that security concerns were not enough to limit the right to demonstrate.

The police authority has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.

Quran burning incidents

The January protest had been authorized by Rasmus Paludan, a Swedish-Danish activist who had previously been convicted of racist abuse.

Paludan also provoked rioting in Sweden last year when he publicly burned copies of the holy Quran.

The Turkish government took particular offense that police had authorized the demonstration outside their embassy, blocking Sweden’s NATO bid as a result.

Swedish politicians have criticized the holy Quran burning but have also defended the right to freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate.

Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act,” said Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

However, Paul Levin, director of Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies, said Tuesday’s court ruling “opens up for new Quran burnings.”

He added that there are many people who wish to sabotage Sweden’s NATO process, and burning Qurans is an effective way to do so.

A Swedish expert in administrative law, Tom Schultz-Eklund, said that he believed police would likely continue to refuse permits for the holy Quran burning protests. “It’s just speculation from my side, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the police stick to their line until there is a definitive decision from a higher court,” he said.

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