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Burning of the Quran: An Islamophobic stunt


On Friday 27th January 2023, an attack on Muslim religious scriptures was replicated by Rasmus Paludan, a far-right Danish-Swedish activist. The incident took place in front of a mosque outside the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the anti-Islam activist burnt copies of ‘The Qur’an.’ This incident was first carried out by him on the 21st of January 2023 in Sweden.

Taking things further, Paludan has promised to continue this protest every Friday until Sweden is enrolled in NATO. The country and its neighbour, Finland, submitted their applications on 18th May 2022, seeking to join the world’s largest military alliance, a move spurred by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. 

However, as per the guidelines of NATO, their enrolment would require approval from all the thirty member countries. Turkey being one of them, has indicated that it will block Sweden’s bid in the wake of recent incidents, postponing the meeting indefinitely. It was slated to be held in Brussels in February to discuss the membership of the two countries.  

‘Once he [Erdogan] has let Sweden into NATO, I promise that I will not burn the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy. Otherwise, I will do so every Friday at 2 pm.’ Paludan said.

On Friday, surrounded by riot police, wearing a protective helmet, in a live broadcast on his

Facebook page, Paludan stated, “This mosque has no place in Denmark.” He was later driven away in a police car to bring the situation under control. 


Furthermore, it was revealed by the Swedish media that Paludan was paid 320 Swedish krona by a far-right journalist, Chang Frick, who had asked a nationalist website ‘to put him in touch with someone who could burn the Quran.’ Frick, a former contributor to Kremlin-backed television channel, is a media presenter for the Sweden Democrats nationalist political party. 

On January 22nd 2023, a similar incident took place in the Netherlands, where a Dutch leader of a far-right group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), Edwin Wagensveld was seen tearing apart the pages of the Quran and then setting it to fire, claiming that he had attained permission from the city to execute the destruction of the Quran. ‘Soon, there will be registrations for similar actions in several cities, time to answer disrespect from Islam with disrespect,’ he said.

The incidents have wrecked the Muslim world all across the globe, garnering widespread protests worldwide. On Friday, protests were held in several predominantly Muslim countries including Pakistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, against Paludan’s actions. Thousands of protesters took to the streets on the 24th of January in Yemen, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan condemning the twin incidents. A security warning was issued by the USA to its citizens residing in Turkey, considering possible retaliatory attacks following the Quran-burning incidents.


Later, Turkey’s foreign ministry released a statement calling Paludan an ‘Islam-hating charlatan’ and deploring the fact that he was allowed to stage the demonstration. ‘Showing tolerance towards such heinous acts that offend the sensitivities of millions of people living in Europe threatens the practice of peaceful coexistence and provokes racist, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim attacks,’ the Ministry said. 

 Looking at the violence against the Muslim community, a 34-year-old man sought permission to burn the Jewish Holy Scripture outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. The permission was denied as such an act would be considered anti-semitic. In his speech following the incident, Paludan said, ‘If you don’t think there should be freedom of expression, you have to live somewhere else.’

Islamophobia has been on a steady rise in the west and beyond. The surfacing of such incidents all but gives it a more definitive form. Such hate mongering needs to be condemned in the strictest terms so as to avoid such miss happenings in the future and to work towards a more habitable and peaceful coexistence. 

Written By Madeeha Ahmad and Syeda Adeeba

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