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How Quran burnings are handled in other countries

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The Danish government wishes to intervene against the burning of the Quran – now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has examined how other countries handle Quran burnings.

Based on information from Danish embassies abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has compiled a list of examples of how other countries have the ability to intervene in connection with the burning of the Quran.

Regarding Belgium, it is reported that in 2020, a person’s request for permission to publicly burn a Quran in Brussels was denied. The refusal was due to the request being submitted too late, the prevailing Covid-19 regulations at that time could not be adhered to, and it could not be guaranteed that the gathering could be limited to the maximum permitted number of 100 people.

Regarding Finland, it is stated that there is a legal provision regarding the violation of religious freedom. Based on previous and current practices, religious freedom will be considered violated by burning or other public desecration of a book considered sacred by a religious community. Additionally, it is prohibited to burn objects in public places to an extent that disrupts public order, which also prevents Quran burning during demonstrations. In 2023, the police prevented the burning of a Quran during a demonstration by contacting the organizers in advance.

Regarding France, it is stated that French authorities, under the law on internal security, can assess that a public demonstration – where the organizer announces that a Quran will be burned – could constitute a disturbance of public order. For this reason, the authorities can prohibit the demonstration. In November 2020, the Prefect of Police in Paris banned Stram Kurs from burning a Quran in public as it would be a disturbance of public order, and a demonstration in the specific situation was not allowed due to the prevailing Covid-19 restrictions. The case concluded with French authorities imposing an entry ban on Rasmus Paludan, who was arrested for expulsion after crossing the French border by car.

Regarding the Netherlands, it is reported that violations of local regulations on holding demonstrations, including arson in cities, have been the reason for local Dutch authorities rejecting requests to burn the Quran during demonstrations. However, the Quran has been desecrated in other ways during demonstrations.

Regarding Norway, it is stated that Quran burnings are legal and do not need to be pre-notified to the police. However, the police can reject permission for a demonstration in which Quran burning is expected if the authorities cannot guarantee safety. Thus, the police in Oslo rejected permissions for demonstrations involving Quran burning in front of the Iranian and Turkish embassies in February and March 2023. This was due to the fact that, based on existing security assessments, the local security for the organizers or spectators could not be guaranteed. On July 29, 2023, a Quran was burned during a notified demonstration in front of the Stortinget, where the Quran burning itself was not pre-notified.

Regarding the United Kingdom, it is stated that British authorities can prevent or stop Quran burnings during demonstrations under the law on public order. However, such cases have not occurred. In March 2023, Rasmus Paludan was denied entry into the UK as British authorities became aware of the intention to publicly burn a Quran. The responsible minister justified the decision in Parliament, stating that it would not be in the public interest.

Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Germany, and Austria have reportedly not had recent cases of Quran burnings during demonstrations.

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