European states vote against Quran burning UN resolution

Muslim protesters hold copies of the book 'Quran' as they chant slogans to denounce the burning of the Quran that took place in Sweden, in Pakistan. 9 July 2023
Muslim protesters hold copies of the book 'Quran' as they chant slogans to denounce the burning of the Quran that took place in Sweden, in Pakistan. 9 July 2023 Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AFP
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In the wake of several Quran burning incidents in Sweden, Muslim countries backed a UN resolution condemning the stunt.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday condemning the burning of the Quran as a religious hate act, despite warnings from several nations the text might restrict freedom of speech. 


Pakistan requested the urgent discussion on behalf of several countries, following incidents where Islam's holy book was burnt in Sweden. 

28 of the Council's 47 members approved it, including China, Ukraine, and most African countries. There were seven abstentions and twelve states votes against, including France, Germany, the UK, and the USA.

The resolution condemns "all advocacy and manifestations of religious hatred, including recent public and premeditated desecrations of the Quran", calling on countries to enact laws to prosecute those responsible.

The UN requested that countries without such legislation be identified, and a roundtable of experts be organised to examine the issue.

Pakistan's ambassador, Khalil Hashmi, described the text as balanced, with no finger-pointing at any particular state.

But several countries, most of them Western, voiced their opposition to blasphemy laws during Wednesday's debates, while strongly condemning the incidents in Sweden.

The United States, European Union and United Kingdom called on others to vote against the resolution.

"We regret having to vote against this unbalanced text, but it contradicts positions we have long held on freedom of expression", said US ambassador Michèle Taylor.

Some Latin American countries abstained, including Mexico and Honduras, insisting more time was needed to negotiate and reach a consensus.

Costa Rica, which also voted against the resolution, said before the vote that "any expression critical of religions does not in itself constitute incitement to violence and discrimination".

On June 28, an Iraqi refugee in Sweden burned some pages of a copy of the Quran in front of Stockholm's largest mosque during the Eid al-Adha holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world.


Swedish police had authorised the gathering, during which the holy book was vandalised. 

But they subsequently opened an investigation for "agitation against an ethnic group", on the grounds that the burning took place in front of a mosque.

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