COPENHAGEN/STOCKHOLM — More Koran burnings took place in Sweden and Denmark on Monday as the governments of the two Nordic countries said they were examining ways to legally limit such acts in a bid to reduce rising tensions with several Muslim countries.
Denmark and Sweden have seen several protests in recent weeks in which copies of the Koran have been burned or damaged, sparking outrage in Muslim countries and demanding that Nordic governments end the burnings.
The Danish government said on Sunday that it would seek to find a “legal tool” that could allow the authorities to intervene in such protests, if it is deemed to carry “significant negative consequences for Denmark, especially with regard to security.”
“The fact that we are signaling both in Denmark and abroad that we are working on it will help reduce the problems we are facing,” Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told reporters after a meeting with the presidents of parliament’s foreign policy on Monday.
“It’s not because we feel pressured to do it, but it is our political analysis that is in the best interest of all of us,” Rasmussen said. “We shouldn’t just sit back and wait for this to blow up.”
Even so, Quran burnings took place in both countries on Monday. In Stockholm, an Iraqi refugee behind several protests in recent weeks appeared to burn a copy of the Koran in front of the Swedish parliament. In Denmark, anti-Muslim protesters burned the Koran outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Copenhagen.
The Nordic countries have deplored the burning of the Koran, but cannot prevent it under constitutional laws protecting free speech.
However, both governments have now said they are considering legal changes that would allow authorities to prevent further burning in special situations.
The Swedish government said this month it is examining a similar solution, but right-wing parties in both countries have denounced the moves, with some saying freedom of expression cannot be compromised.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Monday he had sent letters to all 57 countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) explaining Sweden’s right of assembly and condemning Islamophobic acts.
OIC foreign ministers met in an extraordinary session on Monday to discuss recent events in which they strongly condemned the Quran burnings.
He also said in a statement after the meeting ended that he urged member states to take appropriate measures, whether political or economic, in countries where the Quran is being desecrated.
After the meeting, Billstrom and his Danish counterpart Rasmussen wrote separately on X, formerly Twitter, that they would continue their dialogue with the OIC.
Billstrom also wrote in his post that Sweden would carefully study the resolutions and recommendations made by the OIC.
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