After Quran-Burning Backlash Sweden Approves Torah-Burning Protest

After a series of controversial protests involving burning the Quran, which sparked outrage from Muslims worldwide, Sweden approved a new protest, but this time would involve burning the Torah and the Bible.

A man in his 30s identified as Ahmad Alush, a resident of western Sweden from Syrian origins, was permitted by the Stockholm police to stage a demonstration in front of the Israeli Embassy last July 15th. He said he wanted to burn the Torah and the Bible in response to an Iraqi Christian immigrant who burned a copy of the Quran outside a mosque in the Swedish capital last June.

The man arrived outside the Israeli diplomatic mission on the afternoon of July 15th to conduct his protest. But at the last minute, he abandoned his plan to burn the Torah and the Bible. Instead, he held a copy of the Quran and staged a one-man demonstration against the recent spate of Quran burnings in Sweden, which drew condemnation from governments and individuals worldwide.

During the protest, he said he was Muslim before throwing away the lighter, declaring that he didn’t need it. He also said such acts are against the Quran and he “will not burn” either the Torah or the Bible, adding that “no one should do that.”

I’m a Muslim, we don’t burn (books). I want to show that we have to respect each other,” the man said, adding that he had no intention to carry out his original plan.

Israeli officials and Jewish groups strongly condemned Sweden for permitting the man to conduct his protest, which initially involved burning the Torah and the Bible.

The president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), Ariel Muzicant, said that such “provocative, racist, antisemitic and sickening acts such as these have no place in any civilized society,” adding that “stamping on the deepest religious and cultural sensibilities of people is the clearest expression possible to send a message that minorities are unwelcome and unrespected.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also condemned this decision, saying in a Tweet, “I unequivocally condemn the permission granted in Sweden to burn holy books. As the President of Israel, I condemned the burning of the Quran, sacred to Muslims world over, and I am now heartbroken that the same fate awaits a Jewish Bible, the eternal book of the Jewish people.

Sweden faced strong criticism from Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey for allowing protests that involved burning the Quran. These demonstrations even jeopardized its application to join NATO and made it difficult for Sweden to convince Turkey to let it join the alliance.

The Quran-burning acts were also condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which serves as the world’s top human rights body. On July 12th, the council approved a resolution, calling on countries to review their laws and pass legislation to prevent religious hatred in the wake of these anti-Muslim protests. This measure was divisive, with Western countries rejecting it because they feared it might trample freedom of expression.

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