Planned Torah burning in Sweden sparks outrage


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Status: 07/15/2023 00:07

The Stockholm police have authorized a demonstration to burn the holy books of Jews and Christians. The organizers claim freedom of speech. There has been massive criticism, especially from Israel.

Following the public burning of a copy of the Koran in Sweden two weeks ago, the Stockholm police have authorized a demonstration to burn the sacred texts of Jews and Christians. At the meeting, the Torah, which is sacred to Jews, and the Christian Bible are to be burned in front of the Israeli embassy.

Organizers refer to freedom of speech

Police spokeswoman Carina Skagerlind told AFP that the permit does not refer to an official request to publicly burn the Torah and Bible. Rather, the police authorized a meeting at which an “opinion” was to be expressed. This is “an important difference”.

In their registration for the demonstration, however, the organizers announced that copies of the Torah and the Bible would be burned. According to the applicant, the action is a reaction to the burning of the Koran at the end of June, which also took place with official approval and is an expression of freedom of expression. The goal is “to expose the Swedish hypocrisy,” it said.

Strong words of protest from Israel

The approval that was granted met with fierce criticism in Israel and among Jewish organizations. “As President of the State of Israel, I have condemned the burning of the Koran, sacred to Muslims around the world, and it breaks my heart now that the same fate awaits a Jewish Bible, the eternal book of the Jewish people,” said Israeli President Izchak Herzog.

He condemned “the permission to burn holy books in the strongest terms”. Allowing the defacement of sacred texts is not an exercise of freedom of expression, but obvious incitement and an act of pure hatred. The whole world must come together and clearly condemn this “heinous act,” said Herzog.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: “The State of Israel takes this shameful decision, which harms the Holy of Holies of the Jewish people, very seriously.” Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen urged the Swedish authorities to prevent the burning.

Iraqis burned Koran

At the end of June, the Swedish authorities approved an action by an Iraqi who had fled to Sweden, which triggered violent protests in the Muslim world. On the first day of the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice, 37-year-old Salwan Momika stepped on a copy of the Koran several times in front of the main mosque in Stockholm, while waving the Swedish flag. He then stuck strips of ham, which Muslims consider unclean, into the book and burned a few pages from it.

The police justified their approval of this action with freedom of expression. However, she later launched an investigation into “incitement against an ethnic group” because Momika carried out the cremation so close to the mosque. Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco summoned the Swedish ambassadors.

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