The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday said collective measures were needed to prevent acts of desecration of the Holy Quran and international law should be used to stop religious hatred after the holy book was burned in a protest in Sweden.
The statement was issued after an extraordinary meeting in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah called to discuss Wednesday’s incident of the Holy Quran’s desecration in Sweden.
“We must send constant reminders to the international community regarding the urgent application of international law, which clearly prohibits any advocacy of religious hatred,” OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha said.
Fawad Sher, Pakistan’s ambassador to the OIC, participated in the meeting and reaffirmed the country’s “resolute condemnation of the globally ascendant wave of Islamophobia”.
He reiterated the call for “concerted OIC efforts to curb the alarming trend”.
A man, who fled from Iraq to Sweden several years ago, tore up and burned the Holy Quran outside Stockholm’s central mosque on the first day of Eidul Azha in the country. He was charged by Swedish police with agitation against an ethnic or national group and a violation of a ban on fires that was in place in Stockholm since mid-June.
The act drew strong criticism from several countries, including Pakistan, Turkiye, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Iraq and Iran.
The OIC had announced a day after the incident that it would be convening an emergency meeting of its executive committee to discuss the matter.
The intergovernmental organisation of 57 countries had said in a statement that the meeting was called by Saudi Arabia in its capacity as chair of the Islamic Summit Conference and would take place at the OIC headquarters in the Saudi city of Jeddah.
The emergency meeting would also go over the procedures for dealing with the fallout from the incident, it had added.
In an earlier statement, the OIC had strongly condemned the incident, saying that such an act contradicted “international efforts to spread the values of tolerance, moderation, and renunciation of extremism”.
It had also reiterated its condemnation of such “reprehensible acts that some extremists deliberately commit” and urged relevant governments around the world to “take effective measures to prevent its recurrence”.
The OIC had also emphasised the importance of adhering to the UN Charter in terms of promoting and encouraging respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all at the global level.
Sweden condemns ‘Islamophobic’ act
Separately, Sweden’s government condemned the burning, calling it an “Islamophobic” act.
“The Swedish government fully understands that the Islamophobic acts committed by individuals at demonstrations in Sweden can be offensive to Muslims,” the Swedish foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We strongly condemn these acts, which in no way reflect the views of the Swedish government,” it added.
“The burning of the Quran, or any other holy text, is an offensive and disrespectful act and a clear provocation. Expressions of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Sweden or in Europe,” the Swedish foreign ministry said.
At the same time, the ministry added that Sweden has a “constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration”.
Iran holds off sending ambassador to Sweden in protest
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said today that the country would Iran refrain from sending a new ambassador to Sweden in protest over the incident.
Iran’s foreign ministry had summoned Sweden’s charge d’affaires on Thursday to condemn what it said was an insult to the most sacred Islamic sanctities.
“Although administrative procedures to appoint a new ambassador to Sweden have ended, the process of dispatching them has been held off due to the Swedish government’s issuing of a permit to desecrate the Holy Quran,” Amirabdollahian said on Twitter on Sunday.
He did not specify how long Iran would refrain from sending an ambassador to Sweden.
On Wednesday, Salwan Momika, 37, had asked police for permission to burn the Holy Quran “to express my opinion about the Quran”.
Ahead of the protest, Momika told news agency TT he also wanted to highlight the importance of freedom of speech.
“This is democracy. It is in danger if they tell us we can’t do this,” Momika said.
Under a heavy police presence and with around a dozen opponents shouting at him in Arabic, Momika, dressed in beige trousers and a shirt, addressed the crowd of several dozen through a megaphone.
At various times, he stomped on the Holy Quran and lit a few pages on fire while waving Swedish flags, journalists at the scene said.
Earlier this year, Paludan, the leader of Denmark’s far-right party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), burned a copy of the Holy Quran in front of a mosque in Denmark, leading to great outrage among Muslims all over the world.
He had also committed a similar act on Jan 21 when he set a copy of the Holy Quran on fire during an anti-Islam and anti-immigration protest in front of the Turkish embassy in Sweden.