Denmark’s parliament passed a law making it illegal to desecrate any holy text in the country, following public Quran desecrations that triggered protests in Muslim countries.
The government of Denmark will now take action against those who violate this law, citing the need to protect Denmark’s security and its citizens.
The legislation, approved by representatives with 94 votes in favor and 77 against, imposes fines and up to two years of imprisonment for burning, tearing, or insulting religious texts in public places.
Peter Hømgaard, the Minister of Justice, stated, “We must protect the security of Denmark and our citizens.” He added, “Such demonstrations can harm Denmark’s relations with other countries, our interests, and ultimately our security.”
Official statistics show that in the past three months, over 500 incidents of Quran burning or flag burning have been recorded, sparking anger in many Islamic countries. Protesters in Iraq, outraged by Quran burning, attacked the Danish embassy in Baghdad on October 31.
Some countries, like Iran, have recalled their ambassadors from Denmark in response to these incidents.
Before this law can be enacted, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark must officially sign it. Previously, Denmark had condemned Quran burning but argued that it couldn’t prevent it based on freedom of speech principles.
Denmark, amidst concerns that Quran burning could incite attacks by Islamist extremists, has been seeking a balance between freedom of expression protected by its constitution and national security.
Domestic critics in Sweden and Denmark have argued that any restrictions on criticizing religion, including Quran burning, weaken civil liberties in the country. Inger Støjberg, leader of Denmark’s anti-immigration Democratic Party, said, “History will judge us harshly, and it has good reason. Everything boils down to whether we determine our freedom of expression or it’s dictated from the outside,” as cited by Reuters.