Freedom of Expression ‘Hardliner’ Banned From Entering UK For Qur’an Burning Demonstration

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - JANUARY 21: Rasmus Paludan burns the Koran outside of the Turkish embassy on January 21, 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden. Swedish authorities granted permission to a series of protests for and against Turkey amid the bid to join NATO, with far-right Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan - a controversial …
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The UK government has barred Danish anti-Islamism activist Rasmus Paludan from entering the country after the campaigner announced he would travel to the city of Wakefield to burn a Qur’an ahead of the month of Ramadan after a local boy was threatened over scuffing a copy of the book.

Paludan’s group Stram Kurs (Hard Line) announced that the anti-Islam activist, whose Qur’an-burning protests have sparked riots in Sweden and elsewhere, would be coordinating with UK police to facilitate a freedom of expression demonstration later in March. Yet the government moved quickly to state Paludan would not be admitted to the country, and that he had been added to an “immigration watchlist”.

Hard Line and Paludan claim that Islamism is intolerant and incompatible with Western values. Paludan says the extremely violent reaction to copies of the Qur’an being damaged underlines this intolerance that he believes should not be welcomed or encouraged in Europe. Paludan also shows cartoons featuring the Islamic prophet Mohamed at his rallies: several journalists have been murdered in Europe for publishing such cartoons by Islamic extremists in recent memory, acts which Paludan says underline his point about Islam.

Paludan said he had chosen Wakefield following the suspension of four students at a local high school who were accused of disrespecting a copy of the Qur’an in February.

One of the students, said to be autistic, also received death threats as a result of a campaign from local Muslims, with the boy’s mother appearing at a local meeting organised by the Muslim community at a mosque. The mother apologised for the actions of her son, stating that he was remorseful. Paludan criticised people who don’t “understand and respect democracy” in Wakefield for threatening a child damaging his own property, even if it was a Qur’an.

Ahead of the government’s announcement that Paludan would be stopped from entering the UK if he tried, Wakefield’s member of parliament demanded he be prevented from coming to the city.

“Far-right Islamophobic Danish politician Rasmus Paludan said he’s going to travel from Denmark to Wakefield for the sole purpose of burning a Quran in a public place,” Wakefield Labour MP Simon Lightwood said, continuing: “Mr Paludan was previously jailed in Denmark for his hateful and racist statements. He’s a dangerous man that should not be allowed into this country. Can the Home Secretary assure me and my community that the government is taking action to prevent this?”.

Home Office Minister for Security Tom Tugendhat stated that Paludan was banned from entry saying, “Now I inform the house that Mr Paludan has been added to the warnings index and therefore his travel to the United Kingdom would not be conducive with the public good and he will not be allowed access”, the BBC reported.

Some countries in Europe protect Paludan’s demonstrations, including by deploying police to separate him from counter-protesters, as legitimate expressions of opinion. Others have banned his demonstrations. In 2019, a Syrian migrant in Sweden was deported for hitting Paludan in the head.

Paludan caused large-scale riots in Sweden last year after he carried out several Quran-burning protests in several cities and more recently he burned a copy of the book outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, further heightening tensions between the two countries over Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

Police in Stockholm later bowed to Turkish pressure and effectively banned Qur’an-burning protests, stating that they would refuse to grant any future permissions for protests involving the destruction of the book, ushering in defacto blasphemy rules for public expression.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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