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A UN Body Has Condemned the Burning of a Qur’an in Sweden. Here’s Why It Shouldn’t Have.

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Book burning is an ugly business; in America is generally associated with Nazis standing gleefully before bonfires of forbidden books. Still, the freedom of expression is the freedom of expression, and if someone wants to burn a copy of Mein Kampf or The Catcher in the Rye or the Bible, that’s his business. When it comes to the Qur’an, however, suddenly the most stalwart exponents of the freedom of expression start talking about how much we need to curtail that freedom in order to respect the rights of others. It’s all happening again in connection with the burning of a Qur’an in Sweden on Friday.

Rasmus Paludan is a Danish politician to whom the establishment media universally refers as “far right,” which these days means little more than, “This is someone the elites don’t want you to like or support.” He obtained permission from the Swedish government to burn a Qur’an publicly; the permission was granted precisely in the interest of upholding the freedom of expression.

After the book was duly burned, the real firestorm began. Several countries summoned their Swedish ambassadors. Condemnations came in from all over the Islamic world. The Turkish Foreign Ministry declared that the act was “an outright hate crime” and added: “Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable. This despicable act is yet another example of the alarming level that Islamophobia and, racist and discriminatory movements have reached in Europe.” The Foreign Ministry said nothing about the jihad violence or Sharia oppression that might lead someone to dislike the Qur’an in the first place.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry chimed in with, “This senseless and provocative Islamophobic act hurts the religious sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.” It insisted that such acts were “not covered under any legitimate expression of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carries responsibilities under international human rights law, such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence.”

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah said the burning “hurts Muslims’ sentiments across the world and marks serious provocation.” He said that the world should “shoulder responsibility by stopping such unacceptable acts and denouncing all forms of hatred and extremism and bringing the perpetrators to accountability.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said that Europe invokes the freedom of speech in order to “allow extremist and radical elements to spread hatred against Islamic sanctities and values.” He said that the burning was a “clear example of spreading hatred and fueling violence against Muslims” and had “nothing to do with freedom of speech and thought.”

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