Man Stopped from Defiling Torah in Sweden Despite Permitted Quran Burning

A week after far-right Danish-Swedish activist Rasmus Paludan burned the Quran in Sweden, which sparked outrage across the Muslim world, Swedish authorities have reportedly denied giving a Muslim man permission to burn the Torah in front of the Israeli embassy as a protest.

The incident comes as Paludan burned the Quran once more, but this time in front of a mosque during Friday prayers in Copenhagen, Denmark. According to the news website Arabi21, the 34-year-old man, identified as an Egyptian writer living in Sweden, requested a permit to stage a protest where he would burn the Torah, the holy book of Judaism, in front of the Israeli embassy. 

The man said he wanted to stage a rally to demonstrate Sweden’s double standards regarding freedom of expression and religion. Free speech laws were previously used to justify Paludan’s Quran-burning acts in Sweden and Denmark.

He also told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that while he understands that "burning holy books is not permissible," he wanted to "create a discussion" because of his anger over the Quran burning. The man also hoped the protest would provoke a discussion and shed light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

My action is not aimed at the Swedish Jewish minority. I am standing outside the Israeli embassy because I want to remind about Israel’s killing of Palestinian children,” the man said.

He also expressed that he’s "tired" of authorities spending tax money to protect Paludan. The far-right activist previously staged protests with protection from the Swedish and Danish police. 

Although Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen welcomed the move by Swedish authorities, Israeli ambassador Ziv Nevo Kulman said the action was prevented with the help of the local Jewish community. Furthermore, a rabbi involved in interfaith work told the Jerusalem Post that the Swedish Muslim community leaders also helped discourage the man from organizing his protest.

In addition, the Israeli news website, the Times of Israel, reported that the man had reportedly been given approval by Swedish authorities to conduct his protest and claimed that he only postponed his plan. 

I will still carry out my actions. It is important to me. I will submit a new application next week,” the man said. 

The leader of the Danish far-right party Stram Kurs claimed that he burned the Quran to pressure Turkey to approve Sweden’s application to join NATO, despite past incidents of him repeatedly burning the Muslim holy book during far-right, anti-Muslim rallies. However, this move seemingly backfired as Turkey canceled defense talks between Stockholm and Ankara, likely jeopardizing the Nordic country’s application to join the military alliance.

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