BEIRUT: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has suspended Sweden’s special envoy status over a series of Quran burnings in Stockholm that sparked outrage and mass protests in several Muslim countries.
The organization, which is made up of 57 Muslim-majority countries, said on Sunday (July 23) that the suspension was due to Swedish authorities granting a license to repeatedly abuse the sanctity of the Holy Quran and Islamic symbols.
Islamic holy books were burned or destroyed during recent public demonstrations in the Swedish capital. An Iraqi man of Christian origin living in Sweden as a self-proclaimed atheist announced plans to burn a Koran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday.
Demonstrators in Iraq attacked the Swedish embassy and the Iraqi government severed diplomatic ties with Sweden. In the end, the man in Sweden kicked and kicked the Islamic holy book but could not burn it.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s decision came after the bloc’s executive committee meeting on July 2 following the earlier Koran-burning incident.
The committee asked the secretary-general to consider suspending the status of special envoy from any country where copies of the Holy Quran or other Islamic values and symbols are desecrated with the consent of the authorities concerned, the statement said on Sunday.
The organization said it has sent a letter to Sweden’s foreign minister informing it of the decision.
The public burning of the Koran in Denmark on Friday sparked further protests in Iraq, some of which turned violent. Protesters clashed with police as they tried to storm Baghdad’s Green Zone, home to the Danish embassy, and in Basra, demonstrators set fire to the Danish Refugee Council’s demining project.
Denmark’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday condemned the burning of the Koran.
“Burning holy books and other religious symbols is a shameful act of disrespecting the religion of others,” it said. “This is a provocative act that has hurt many people and created divisions between different religions and cultures.”
However, it added that “freedom of expression and assembly must be respected.”
While many countries around the world still have laws criminalizing blasphemy, Sweden and Denmark do not, and the burning of scriptures is not specifically prohibited by law.