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Sweden is conducting an analysis of the possibilities of legally banning desecration of Holy Books

Ahmad Alush speaks to reporters outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm where he had been granted permission to burn a Hebrew Bible. The man said he had no intention of burning a holy book and only wanted to draw attention to the recent Koran burning in Sweden, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

In response to a letter from Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, Sweden’s Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer stressed that desecrations of Holy Books ”in no way reflect the Swedish government’s opinions”.

Sweden’s Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer said that the Swedish government is examining legal and legislative possibilities to ban the desecration of holy books in the country.

He made the announcement in a response to a letter from Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association (EJA), who had called on the Swedish government to ban the desecration of Holy Books.

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Margolin’s letter followed the burning of a Quran in front of a Stockholm mosque and threats to burn a Jewish Bible during a demonstration in front of the Israeli eùmbassy in the Swedish capital.

In his response, Minister Strömmer, wrote: ‘’While in Sweden it is the authorities and courts, that decides on individual requests to demonstrate, that an act is lawful does not mean that it is appropriate.’’ ‘’Desecration of Holy Books is an offensive and disrespectful act, and a clear provocation,’’ he added.

”The Swedish government understands that the acts in question committed by individuals attending demonstrations may be offensive, acts which in no way reflect the Swedish Government’s opinions,” he wrote.

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He continued by pledging that the Swedish Government ‘’is closely monitoring developments both nationally and internationally in response to recent events. We are conducting a process of analysis of the legal situation in the light of this.”

Rabbi Margolin thanked Minister Strömmer for his pledge and stressed that: “Those bent on stoking division are exploiting the constitution for their own ends and it is a loophole that needs to be closed.  While the right to freedom and protest is a fundamental right, it must end at the point where it infringes on another’s fundamental rights of faith and traditions.’’

Meanwhile, Denmark said it would limit demonstrations involving the burning of sacred texts.

Several recent demonstrations in Sweden and Denmark involving auto-da-fés or other desecrations of the Quran have raised diplomatic tensions between the two Scandinavian countries and several Arab countries.

Stressing that such demonstrations play into the hands of extremists and sow division, the Danish government intends to “explore” the possibility of intervening in situations “where, for example, other countries, cultures and religions are insulted, and which may have significant negative consequences for Denmark, particularly in terms of security”, wrote the Danish foreign ministry in a statement.

“This must of course be done within the framework of constitutionally protected freedom of expression,” it added, stressing that this is one of Denmark’s most important values.

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