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Denmark passes law to ban public desecration of Bible, Quran

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A new law that forbids the public desecration of holy books was approved by the Danish parliament on Thursday. 

The law aims to protect the religious sentiments of recognised religious communities and to prevent security threats.

The Justice Minister of Denmark, Peter Hummelgaard, said the law was necessary to stop the systematic insults that have been going on for a long time. He said the law would protect the security of Denmark and the Danes.

The law defines desecration as “inappropriate treatment of writings with significant religious importance for a recognised religious community.” This includes burning, tearing or otherwise defiling holy books publicly or in videos intended to be disseminated widely.

The law carries a penalty of a fine or up to two years in prison. The law will be evaluated after three years.

The law was proposed after a series of incidents involving the burning and desecration of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, in Denmark and Sweden over the summer. These incidents sparked anger and protests in several Muslim countries.

According to the national police, 483 book burnings or flag burnings were recorded in Denmark between July 21 and October 24 this year.

The law was amended after criticism that the original draft was too vague and could limit freedom of expression. The original draft covered objects of significant religious importance, not just writings.

The law was also opposed by some politicians, artists, media and freedom of speech experts, who saw it as a revival of the blasphemy law that Denmark abolished in 2017.

Inger Stojberg, the leader of the far-right Denmark Democrats, called the law a betrayal and a failure by the government.

 She said the law would curtail freedom of speech, which was defended by Denmark during the Muhammad crisis in 2006, when the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad triggered violent reactions in the Muslim world.

In Sweden, the government has condemned the desecration of the Qur’an at protests, but has not banned it, citing the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and assembly. 

The government has said it will explore legal ways of stopping protests involving the burning of holy texts in certain situations.

Denmark is not the only European country to have a law against the desecration of holy books. According to the justice ministry of Denmark, eight other European countries have similar laws, such as Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland and Romania. 

 

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