Iraqis take part in a protest outside the Green Zone, denouncing the burning of the Quran in Sweden. AFP
Quran-burning demonstrations by Islamophobes in Sweden, Denmark, and other liberal Western nations continue despite condemnations from Islamic nations, protests by Muslims, and the passage of a recent United Nations Human Rights Council resolution denouncing the sacrilegious act, with several Christian-majority nations voting for it.
It appears that the more intense the international condemnation, the more Islamophobes are encouraged to perpetrate their provocative action, which will only widen the schism between the followers of the world’s top two religions, Christianity and Islam. According to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Centre, Christianity is the world’s largest religion with 2.3 billion followers, accounting for 31% of the world’s population. Islam is the fastest-growing religion and the second-largest religion, with 1.8 billion followers, accounting for 24% of the world’s population.
The viral spread of the Quran burning reminds us of the Martyrs’ Cult of 9th-century Muslim Spain. Members of the Martyrs’ Cult led by radical Christian monks would court death by appearing before a Muslim judge and defaming the prophet of Islam. History records more than fifty such incidents which were, however, condemned by mainstream Church leaders.
At a time when what is required is inter-faith dialogue and religious inclusivism, actions such as Quran burnings strengthen destructive forces, promoting extreme forms of religious exclusivism, which does not tolerate the existence of other religions. Extreme exclusivism is the core of the ideology terrorists hold onto by misinterpreting religion. Religious exclusivism—the belief that only ‘my religion’ is correct and all the rest is false—is seen among the followers of all religions. In contrast, religious inclusivism believes that not only ‘my religion’ but other religions also show the path to salvation.
In the West, an increasing number of people ditch religion and become non-religionists. Yet, we see an increasing incidence of Quran burnings and hate campaigns in the West. This only confirms that unbridled liberalism is a breeding ground for religious exclusivism or extremism, with the state offering patronage to dangerous ideologies by failing to rein them in.
The latest Quran-burning incident took place in Denmark on Tuesday when members of a far-right group set fire to copies of Islam’s holy book outside the Egyptian and Turkish embassies. This follows Quran-burning demonstrations on Monday and last week in Copenhagen outside the Iraqi embassy.
A few weeks ago, two Quran-burning incidents in Sweden sparked protests in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and several Muslim countries. Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt summoned the Swedish and Danish ambassadors to lodge their protests over what they saw as ‘despicable acts’ justified on grounds of freedom of expression.
The Danish government said it condemned Quran burnings as “provocative and shameful acts” but said it did not have the power to block ‘non-violent’ demonstrations.
Copenhagen University law professor Trine Baumbach said, “People benefit from extended freedom of speech when they demonstrate. It does not just include verbal expression. People can express themselves in various ways, such as through the burning of items.”
But many disagree and point out that freedom of expression is not the freedom of the wild ass. The right to free expression comes with social responsibility. In other words, it needs to be regulated and curtailed in the larger interest of peace between communities and nations.
Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe was right when he recently condemned the burning of the Holy Quran. He urged Western nations to uphold the value system of the Global South and refrain from allowing disturbances under the pretext of freedom of expression.
“The central question at hand is whether this act constitutes a violation of freedom of religion or falls under the umbrella of freedom of expression. While we all perceive it as an assault on religion, some Western countries aim to broaden the concept of expression to alleviate the existing confusion. Nonetheless, not everything can be encompassed by freedom of expression, and there should be limits,” the President said.
What liberal Sweden and Denmark see as non-violent demonstrations falling within the realm of freedom of expression are indeed violent if violence is interpreted in a broader sense to include the psychological pain their actions cause to billions of Muslims and the damage they inflict on the social fabric by killing the possibilities of peace between communities.
For Muslims, the Quran is the word of God, and therefore they would not touch it in a state of impurity. They believe it is the world’s most memorised book, and there exist among them millions of ‘huffaz’ who have memorised the entire Quran. Even if every copy of the Quran in the world, including what exists in digital form, is destroyed, these huffaz would produce new copies, word to word, within no time.
However, it causes them immense pain when the Quran is desecrated, as happened at the United States detention centre in Guantanamo Bay. In 2005, the Pentagon admitted that a guard kicked the Quran, while other incidents acknowledged by the Pentagon include urine being splashed onto the copy of the Quran, writing obscene words on the pages of the Quran, and trampling the holy book during interrogations of Muslim suspects.
In Norway, Quran burning has been continuing since 2017, with the government taking little or no action to prevent it. Throwing copies of the Quran to the ground and wrapping bacon in pages of the Quran are regular occurrences, especially at rallies of the political party Stram Kurs. Its leader, Rasmus Paludan, is an avowed Islamophobe and racist who has called on his supporters to urinate on the Quran and described Islam’s holy prophet in a despicable manner.
Also in Norway, the Stop Islamisation of Norway group led by Lars Thorsen has ripped apart and spit on copies of the Quran and dragged them around on a leash. All this happens in liberal Norway, regarded as the superstar of all liberal nations.
Quran burnings are not isolated incidents. They are part of a well-orchestrated plan executed by the multi-billion-dollar Islamophobia industry, comprised of media outlets, political figures, the far-right, White supremacists, some evangelical orders, Islamophobia influencers, Zionists, ex-Muslims, think tanks, security experts, and donors.
Burning religious books as part of hate campaigns is not a new phenomenon in Europe. In 1242, King Louis IX burnt copies of the Jewish Talmud. A religious exclusivist and extremist, he loathed Muslims and rejected any debate with the Jews. He is reported to have said that the only way to debate with a Jew was to kill him “with a good thrust in the belly as far as the sword will go”.
Europe needs to reform its own secular, liberal, and anarchistic ideology through some serious soul-searching before it brings about further chaos and disorder in the world through religious conflicts.mohamed
courtesy Daily Mirror
Disclaimer: Quran burning: Western liberal ideology reduced to ashes - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view