The Danish government presented a model on Friday to criminalize undue treatment of objects with significant religious importance to a religious community. The proposed law would, for example, make it punishable to publicly burn the Quran.
The proposal comes in response to several Quran burnings this summer, which, according to the government, has led Denmark to increasingly be seen in many parts of the world as a country that facilitates insult and denigration of other countries and religions. The government believes this damages Denmark’s interests globally and increases the terrorist threat against Denmark.
Therefore, the government aims to criminalize undue treatment of objects with significant religious importance to a religious community. The proposed law would, for example, make it punishable to publicly burn the Quran or the Bible. The proposal will not cover verbal or written expressions, including drawings. The proposal will target actions carried out in public places or with the intent of dissemination to a wider audience.
-“In recent times, we have witnessed many burnings of the Quran in Denmark. These are insulting actions that harm the security of Danes both abroad and at home. Therefore, the government is presenting a legislative proposal today aimed at criminalizing this type of behavior. This will specifically mean that in the future, it will be punishable if, for instance, one publicly burns the Bible or the Quran,” says Minister of Justice Peter Hummelgaard and continues:
-“Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of Danish democracy, and the freedom to express oneself is a central value in Danish society. The government’s proposal is a targeted intervention that does not change the fact that freedom of speech should have broad boundaries in Denmark.”
Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen says:
-“The Quran burnings in Denmark have reached a level where Denmark is perceived in many parts of the world as a country behind insults to other countries and religions. It creates division in a time that calls more than ever for the opposite, namely unity and alliances. Therefore, I’m pleased that we now have a model on the table that will enable us to put a stop to the kind of insults we are currently witnessing in Denmark.”
Violation of the prohibition could result in a fine or up to two years of imprisonment.