The government of Denmark has unveiled a proposed bill that, if approved, could result in a nationwide anti-Quran burning, amid escalating terrorism concerns and outrage within the Muslim world.
The bill has yet to be formally introduced in the country’s parliament.
Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen emphasized the significance of this move, stating that it conveys an “essential political message” to the global community.
According to the newly proposed legislation, the act of burning a Quran would be classified as a criminal offense, subject to penalties including a maximum prison sentence of two years.
Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard outlined that the intent is to incorporate this new law into the existing regulation that currently prohibits the desecration of foreign flags.
The Danish legislation is designed to prevent the “inappropriate treatment of objects of significant religious importance to a religious community,” he clarified.
Speaking during a press conference, Hummelgaard asserted that recent incidents of Quran burnings were “provocative acts” aimed at fostering “division and animosity.”
He further stated that safeguarding national security was the primary “motivation” behind the proposed ban.
Recent weeks have witnessed public protests in Denmark and Sweden involving the burning and defacement of copies of the Quran, leading to condemnation from Muslim nations.
These nations have urged Nordic governments to intervene and halt these actions. In response to these Quran burnings, authorities from the United States and the United Kingdom revealed that Danish officials had successfully thwarted multiple planned “terrorist” plots and made arrests.
Hummelgaard stressed, “We cannot stand idly by while a handful of individuals do their utmost to incite violent responses.”
Despite protests from certain Danish opposition parties asserting that a ban on Quran burnings could infringe upon free speech, the government has dismissed these concerns.
“I firmly believe that there are more civilized methods to express one’s opinions than resorting to burning things,” Hummelgaard remarked.
Sweden, Denmark’s neighboring country, is also exploring legal avenues to limit the desecration of the Quran in order to mitigate tensions, especially after recent threats led the country’s security officials to raise the terrorist threat level.
The proposed bill would make it illegal to openly burn the Quran, Torah, or Bible.
The timeline for submitting the bill proposal to the 179-seat Danish Parliament remains uncertain.
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