Parliament passes resolution urging Sweden to take ‘appropriate steps’ against Holy Quran’s desecration

Published July 6, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses a joint session of Parliament on Thursday. — National Assembly/Twitter
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses a joint session of Parliament on Thursday. — National Assembly/Twitter

A joint session of the Parliament on Thursday passed a resolution urging Sweden to take “appropriate steps” against perpetrators involved in the recent incident of the Holy Quran’s desecration in Stockholm.

The incident took place last week when a man, who fled from Iraq to Sweden several years ago, tore up and burned a copy of the Holy Quran outside Stockholm’s central mosque on the first day of Eidul Azha there.

The act has drawn strong criticism from several countries, including Pakistan, Turkiye, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Iraq and Iran, as well as the European Union.

During a joint session of the Parliament today — which was convened to register protest over the Sweden incident — lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution strongly condemning the incident.

The resolution, presented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi, said the house believed in respecting all religions, beliefs and holy books.

“This House urged that appropriate steps be taken by Swedish authorities against the perpetrator(s) including but not limited to legal action, and to ensure that no such act taken place in the future,” the resolution, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said.

It added that the house urged incidents of Islamophobia should be dealt with the same seriousness as hate against other religions.

“This house urges that relevant international organisations and states must legislate to criminalise desecration of holy symbols of religions including holy books, personalities, places of worship and followers.”

According to the resolution, the house also appreciated the steps taken by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — which called an emergency meeting to condemn the incident earlier this week in Jeddah — “to compile recommendations and devise a collective future strategy to counter Islamophobia”.

“This house resolves that the international community take appropriate measures for promoting interfaith harmony to ensure that any act that hurts religious sentiments may never take place in the future,” it added.

The resolution was passed after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, during a speech at the outset of the session, urged National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to constitute a committee for the purpose of condemning the desecration of the Holy Quran and suggesting measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

“It will be my responsibility to send the resolution and recommendations to Sweden,” he said.

PM Shehbaz asks Sweden to ‘clear position’ on incident

Addressing the house, the premier said Muslims across the world were angry over the incident.

The Holy Quran, he stated, taught the philosophy of love, respect and patience to the entire world, highlighting that several messengers, such as Prophet Isa, were mentioned in the book.

“As Muslims, we respect them, their books and their religion.

“Never has anyone heard or seen the Bible being desecrated or burnt here. We respect all these religions so that no one points a finger at our religion or book,” he added.

The PM claimed that events such as the one in Sweden were a part of “a conspiracy to create rifts between Christians and Muslims” and demanded that such actions be condemned.

“The incident that took place in Sweden on Eid […] no one ever thought that the police would let something like this happen […] we need to tell the world that this won’t be tolerated,” he asserted.

“It is a part of our belief that we should sacrifice our lives to uphold the honour of the Holy Quran without worrying about anything … the restraint that we are showing must not be seen as a weakness.”

The premier then called on people from all walks of life, as well as political and religious parties, to take to the streets on Friday (July 7) and register their protest against the incident and “give a message to the world”.

He further stated that the “vile man” who disrespected the Holy Quran should be punished in an exemplary manner, highlighting that that could only be done through legal and political discussions.

“For this purpose, I want to appreciate the efforts of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation,” PM Shehbaz said, referring to an emergency meeting of the group which took place earlier this week.

Furthermore, the premier said that although Sweden had condemned the incident, it should clear its position on why the incident took place at all.

“We are not against freedom of speech, but no one has the right to talk about anyone’s religion or do propaganda against Muslims. No law in the world allows this,” he stressed, recalling that similar incidents had taken place in Sweden in the past as well.

PM Shehbaz also mentioned former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden and talked about the way she “respected and protected Muslims”. He paid tribute to Arden and said Pakistan would always remember her.

“I am trying to reach out to the secretary general of the United Nations to call a meeting of all the Muslim leaders in which condemnations would be issued,” he added, hoping that these measures would prevent such incidents in the future.

Pakistan raises issue with Swedish charge d’affaires

Earlier in the day, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan had raised the issue of the desecration of the Holy Quran with the Swedish charge d’affaires in Islamabad, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported.

Addressing a press briefing, she said Pakistan and Sweden enjoyed good diplomatic relations and the Swedish government had itself expressed concern over the “despicable act”.

“We believe that such willful incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence cannot be justified under the guise of freedom of expression. The recurrence of such Islamophobic incidents calls into serious question the legal framework which permits such hate-driven actions,” she said.

The FO spokesperson added that as a leading member of the OIC, Pakistan had called for an urgent debate on the matter at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Pakistan also calls for credible and concrete measures to prevent the rising incidents of xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred,” she added.

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