Norway’s Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr has said that the recent controversial Quran-burning by an anti-Islamisation group should be covered under the nation’s commitment to free speech.
The Stop Islamisation of Norway (SIAN) group attempted to burn a copy of the Islamic holy book this month at a protest in Kristiansand, leading to controversy over whether or not the act was covered under freedom of speech or was illegal, Verdens Gang reports.
“Even if we refrain from burning the Quran, we have to endure it in our society because we have freedom of speech, and burning the Quran is part of that freedom of speech,” Justice Minister Kallmyr said.
Before the protest, Police Director Benedicte Bjørnland had instructed officers to stop anyone attempting to burn the Quran.
“The police were in dialogue with them from early on to inform them that fire in public places in connection with the demonstration is not acceptable and to say that given the context, one would probably be in violation of section 185 of the Criminal Code,” Bjørnland said.
Martin Bernsen of the Police Security Service claimed that authorities were concerned that Quran burnings would lead to retaliation, saying: “We look at it as a trigger event for violent actions, and have provided a description of the situation to the police.”
Norway: Anti-Islam Group Slammed After Violence at Quran Burning Event https://t.co/xAHWTQZPNS
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The Quran burning has been condemned by several Muslim-majority countries including the government of Turkey which issued a press release saying they “strongly condemn the disrespect of our holy book” and called for those responsible to be “brought to justice”.
In Karachi, Pakistan, demonstrators set Norwegian flags on fire and Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor ran an advert in a Pakistani paper condemning the burning.
“We strongly condemn the contamination of the Holy Quran that happened in Norway and continue to express our deepest compassion. We stand in solidarity with our citizens and will be committed to millions of Pakistanis in the years to come,” the company said.