Danish parliament outlaws burning Quran and other religious texts
Posted: Tue, 12th Dec 2023
Following a string of Quran burnings, threats of violence pressure Denmark into banning the destruction of religious texts.
A new law prohibiting damaging or destroying copies the Quran or other religious texts has been introduced in Denmark.
The ban, passed in a 94-77 vote in the Folketing, the Danish parliament, makes it illegal to "to inappropriately treat, publicly or with the intention of dissemination in a wider circle, a writing with significant religious significance for a religious community or an object that appears as such."
Those who violate the new law face fines or up to two years in prison.
Seeking to justify the new law, Danish Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said it was necessary to prevent "systematic desecrations" in order to protect the security of "Denmark and Danes".
The law's introduction follows a significant increase in the terror threat level in Denmark after a number of Qurans were burnt publicly at protests against Islam.
Sweden, which is considering introducing a similar bill after its own series of Quran burnings, has also faced additional threats to its security. In July, the Swedish ambassador to Iraq was expelled and its embassy in Baghdad was stormed by a mob.
In October, the fatal shooting of two Swedes in Brussels was also linked to the Quran burnings.
Both nations have been pressured by Muslim-majority countries to prohibit acts of Quran destruction. At the UN, a resolution put forward by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation falsely claimed that "acts of violence" against religious texts violated international law.
In 2005, similar threats to Denmark's security were made after the Jyllands-Posten newspaper published 12 cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. On that occasion, the Danish Prime Minister defended the right to free expression as "vital and indispensable" to democratic society.
Figures from across Denmark's political spectrum spoke out against the new law. Karina Lorentzen, the spokesperson from the centre-left SF Party, criticised Denmark's indulgence of anti-free speech demands, instead of "fighting back".
Denmark formally repealed its blasphemy laws in 2017.
NSS: Surrender of free speech will only embolden fundamentalists
NSS campaigns officer Jack Rivington said: "The Danish government's surrender of its citizens' right to freedom of expression is a dark day for democratic and secular society.
"By introducing this ban, Denmark has validated violent intimidation as a means to bring about political change, and invited the use of such methods again in future.
"Attempts to appease religious fundamentalists and to trade freedom for security will fail. Efforts to reintroduce blasphemy laws by the back door across all free societies must be resisted as a matter of urgency."
Freedom of Expression
Democracy cannot exist without the right to free speech. Join our campaign to protect freedom of expression from religious incursions.