Denmark’s Parliament Adopts a Law Making It Illegal to Burn the Quran or Other Religious Texts

A new law was passed in Denmark’s parliament on Thursday that makes it illegal to desecrate any holy text in the country, after a recent string of public desecrations of the Quran by a handful of anti-Islam activists sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.

The Scandinavian nation has been viewed abroad as a place that facilitates insults and denigration of the cultures, religions and traditions of other countries. The purpose of the law was to counter “the systematic mockery” which, among other things, has contributed to intensifying the threat of terrorism in Denmark, the justice ministry has said.

“We must protect the security of Denmark and Danes,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said in a statement. “That is why it is important that we now get better protection against the systematic desecrations we have seen for a long time.”

The Folketing, or parliament, adopted the law in a 94-77 vote, with eight lawmakers absent. The new legislation will make it a crime “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.” Works of art where “a minor part” includes a desecration, but is part of a larger artistic production, isn’t covered by the ban.

During the more than four-hour debate, left-leaning and far-right parties united against the center-right government, repeatedly demanding that the three-party coalition that presented the draft on Aug. 25, take part in the discussion. The government didn’t say anything and were called “cowards” by the opposition.

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“Does Iran change its legislation because Denmark feels offended by something an Iranian could do? Does Pakistan? Does Saudi Arabia? The answer is no,” Karina Lorentzen of the Socialist People’s Party asked rhetorically. Inger Støjberg of the anti-immigration Denmark Democrats said that the new law was a capitulation to Islam and a bowing down to countries that “do not share (our) set of values.”