“Allowing the burning of the Qur’an endangers other religious groups”
A Swedish human rights activist told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday that Sweden and Denmark’s statement to far-right figures such as Danish politician Rasmus Paludan to burn the Quran on the grounds of freedom of expression not only affects Muslims but raises concerns among other religious groups as well. .
Paludan’s anti-Islam actions are causing more problems, and putting more people in danger, said Helen Sieglert, a political science professor and human rights advocate.
“His actions fuel racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. If the law can’t stop this, then clearly something is wrong with the law!” Sejlert said.
She said his actions hurt many. “Large (different) groups are now afraid to just say they are Muslims or Jews.”
“The escalation of hatred against these groups is, of course, the goal of a fanatic like Paludan,” she added.
Paludan, who holds dual Danish and Swedish citizenship, burned copies of the Quran last week on two separate occasions, first outside the Turkish embassy in Sweden and later in front of a mosque in Denmark.
Burning of the Qur’an is an echo of the “chilling” Nazi mentality
“The burning of the Holy Qur’an is an eerie echo of the Nazi book burnings, in which the image of the ‘other’ was distorted and ‘impure’ persons or materials were exterminated,” Sieglert said. “This is a rhetoric used by Paludan (and other extremists) when addressing what he sees as the ‘Muslim problem’.”
She also said there was “little knowledge about how to address and combat racism and Islamophobia” in Swedish society.
Opinions expressed by a few extremists, as in Paludan’s case, are not, Sieglert said, “just a cheap, isolated event, spread to the wind by a mad lone wolf.” “It is rather a reflection of the society we live in and an extension of the hatred that is growing on every corner of our streets. Many times this hatred is directed against Muslims.”
And she continued, “These few extremists get free access through the media, which gives them a platform to vent their racism and Islamophobia, and then social media pushes the issue to a boiling point.
“As feelings become more wild, the limits of normal decency are crossed, and the words used become more and more sentimental and hateful toward the ‘other’ and begin to appeal to a wider group.”
The police could have prevented the attack, says Sejlert
Sieglert said that while there was indeed “a lot of hate-mongering and misinformation” throughout the community, Paludan not only burned copies of the Qur’an, but “lit the fire into a flaming situation”.
She emphasized that “Sweden should have acted more wisely and fairly.” “Sweden should have set an example in not causing more harm to a large part of its population.”
“The law is clear and the police could have called off the provocation by invoking security concerns, because an abominable act can lead to violence,” Sieglert said.
She said the Sweden Democrats, an anti-Islam, anti-immigrant party, won 22% of the vote last fall and became a strong voice in government and that life in the country was getting harder and harder for Muslims.
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