Pakistan has strongly condemned yet another incident of the desecration of the Holy Quran, this time in the Netherlands, according to a press release issued by the Foreign Office (FO) on Saturday.
A day ago, a Dutch far-right activist had trampled on and tore up a copy of the Holy Quran at a demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in The Hague, infuriating dozens of counter-protesters.
The Dutch government had already condemned the holding of the demonstration ahead of the event but said it had no legal powers to prevent it.
Edwin Wagensveld, who leads the Dutch branch of the far-right group Pegida, damaged a copy of the Quran, AFP correspondents had witnessed. He was accompanied by two other people.
Police had sealed off access to the street where the Turkish embassy is located and there were around fifty counter-protesters also present. Some of them began throwing stones at Wagensveld when he tore up pages from the Quran.
Around 20 police equipped with shields and batons intervened when some of the crowd tried to chase after him as he left.
Condemning the “provocative and deeply offensive act”, the FO said the “deliberate Islamophobic act” had deeply hurt the sentiments of the global Muslim community and threatened peaceful coexistence and inter-religious harmony.
The press release said Pakistan’s concerns were being conveyed to the authorities in the Netherlands, urging them to be mindful of the sentiments of Muslims around the world and take steps to prevent such “hateful and Islamophobic acts”.
The FO also called on the international community to raise its voice against Islamophobia and work collectively to promote interfaith harmony.
“Such offensive acts cannot be covered under legitimate freedom of expression, opinion and protest. International law obliges states to prevent and prohibit deliberate incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief.
“Pakistan believes that freedom of expression comes with responsibilities. It is the responsibility of national governments and the international community at large to prevent racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic acts. That was the spirit behind the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2022 to mark March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia,” the FO said.
Similar incidents of the Holy Quran’s desecration have taken place in other European countries recently.
In late July, two men set fire to a copy of the Quran in front of the Swedish parliament, and similar incidents have taken place in Denmark this year.
Such demonstrations have provoked anger and condemnations and sometimes unrest in several Muslim countries.