Outright hate crime


Sweden, as its track record shows, is not new to stoking up controversies under the guise of its freedom of expression law. These controversies mostly emanate from acts which are aimed at hurting the religious sentiments and sensitivities of Muslims and which are shamelessly condoned by Stockholm. From the publication of blasphemous caricatures of the Holy Prophet, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), in some French and Swedish publications to the burning of the copy of the Holy Quran, such senseless and provocative acts have nonetheless led to outrage and sparked riots and unrest not only in Sweden but also in other countries of the world. One such appalling act was witnessed in Stockholm last week. The appalling act of the burning of the copy of the Holy Quran was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, a habitual offender and leader of a Danish far-right political party. The burning act followed a long diatribe by the man who was surrounded by the police near the Turkish consulate in Stockholm. The appalling act promptly spurred protest demonstrations across the world. Last year, Paludan’s announcement of burning a copy of the Holy Quran during the holy month of Ramazan had sparked riots across Sweden.
As Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries have denounced the act by a far-right habitual offender Rasmus Paludan to burn a copy of the Holy Quran in Stockholm, Sweden, Ankara has taken the lead and turned down a scheduled visit by Swedish Foreign Minister to the country, which was mainly aimed at overcoming objections by Turkiye to its much-anticipated membership of NATO military alliance. Henceforth, its quest of the membership of the alliance is frustrated by Turkiye. It is clear that Sweden stands in great need of the support and backing of Turkiye to gain entry to the Western military alliance as fears have growing in Europe because of the protracted Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ankara’s objections to Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership are grounded in the fact that the two countries have been harboring elements aligned to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which have waged a decades-long insurgency against Ankara.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu vented fury at Swedish authorities’ failure to ban the protest. “It’s a racist action, it’s not about freedom of expression.” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin condemned the demonstration as a “clear crime of hatred”. Allowing this action despite all our warnings is encouraging hate crimes and Islamophobia, he tweeted. “The attack on sacred values is not freedom but modern barbarism.” As reported in these pages, Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said in a statement that such actions are not covered under any legitimate expression of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carries responsibilities under international human rights law, such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence.
It is high time for the international community to show a common resolve against the incitement to violence under the guise of freedom of expression or on the basis of religion or belief and work for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful coexistence.