HELSINKI — Denmark’s foreign minister said Sunday the government will seek to make it illegal to desecrate the Quran or other religious holy books in front of foreign embassies in the Nordic country.
Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said in an interview with the Danish public broadcaster DR that the burning of holy scriptures “only serves the purpose of creating division in a world that actually needs unity.”
“That is why we have decided in the government that we will look at how, in very special situations, we can put an end to mockery of other countries, which is in direct conflict with Danish interests and the safety of the Danes,” he said.
A recent string of public Quran desecrations by a handful of anti-Islam activists in Denmark and neighboring Sweden have sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.
Løkke Rasmussen said the Cabinet of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is determined to find “a legal tool” to prohibit such acts without compromising freedom of expression, but he acknowledged that would not be easy.
“There must be room for religious criticism, and we have no thoughts of reintroducing a blasphemy clause,” he told DR. “But when you stand up in front of a foreign embassy and burn a Quran or burn the Torah scroll in front of the Israeli embassy, it serves no other purpose than to mock.”
His comments followed a statement issued late Sunday by the Danish government saying freedom of expression is one of the most important values in Danish society.
But, it added, the desecration of the Muslim holy book in Denmark has resulted in the nation being viewed in many places around the world “as a country that facilitates insult and denigration of the cultures, religions, and traditions of other countries.”
The government repeated its condemnation of such desecrations, say they are “deeply offensive and reckless acts committed by few individuals” and “do not represent the values the Danish society is built on.”
In Sweden, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Sunday on Instagram that his government is analyzing the legal situation regarding desecration of the Quran and other holy books, given the animosity such acts are stirring up against Sweden.
“We are in the most serious security policy situation since the Second World War,” Kristersson said.
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