Denmark Prohibits Quran Burning for ‘Security’

Denmark’s Minister of Justice Peter Hummelgaard, via World Economic Forum.
Denmark’s Minister of Justice Peter Hummelgaard, via World Economic Forum.

Denmark’s ministry of foreign affairs released a statement on December 8 with the title “We must protect the security of Danes,”about a law that passed parliament on the previous day preventing extremists from burning religious texts, more specifically, the Holy Quran. 

The law enters into Dutch criminal code the “inappropriate treatment of writings with significant  religious significance for a recognized religious community” whether “publicly or with the intention of spreading it in a wider circle,” such as social media.

Muslim groups in Denmark praised the effort. 

“Let’s celebrate together the adoption of this law, which is not only a triumph for religious communities, but also for the whole future of Denmark,” Minhajul Quran Denmark said on its Facebook page. “This is a step towards a more understanding and respectful coexistence where we can all thrive.”

The Muslim Union of Denmark said, “Let’s embrace this development and look forward to a future where dialogue and understanding flourish across all religious and cultural groups in our lovely country.”

While the law has also been lauded by Muslims all over the world, and with good reason, it should be noted that the ministry of foreign affairs considers this a political move, not a moral one. It comes up for review after three years

Minister of Justice Peter Hummelgaard said in foreign affairs statement, “We know that the threat of terrorism against Denmark has increased from an already high level. We must protect the security of Denmark and the Danes. Therefore, it is important that we will now have better protection against the systematic insulting… actions that have been ongoing for a long time.”

The Danish Security and Intelligence Service notes in the same statement that authorities were alerted by an “attack on Swedish football fans [that] occurred in Brussels in October [2023]. The Belgian authorities assess that the perpetrator was motivated by Quran burnings.”

Since the Danish government has been considering action against Quran burnings since July of this year, it isn’t clear what actions have been committed on its own soil since that time which contribute to a need for the legislation, laudable as it is. 

A news outlet in Denmark, The Local, writes that “Denmark temporarily tightened border controls, but returned to normal on August 22nd.” The last counterterrorism report issued by Denmark’s security services was in May and concerned mostly China and Russia.

On July 30, the ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement that said: 

“We are currently facing a situation where the burnings of the holy Quran in Denmark have reached a level where Denmark, in many parts of the world across continents, is being viewed as a country that facilitates insult …[to] the cultures, religions, and traditions of other countries. 15 governments have issued condemnations of Denmark. Our ambassadors have been summoned for discussions. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is meeting on Monday in response to the burnings of the holy Quran in Denmark and Sweden.”

Perhaps Denmark is concerned about its image on the world stage. But according to The Local, Hummelgaard said that national security was the main “motivation” for the ban.

“We can’t continue to stand by with our arms crossed while several individuals do everything they can to provoke violent reactions,” he said.

From what has been said recently, there is a fear in Denmark that if Muslims are provoked they will become violent. This is the same misguided thought that the perpetrators of the burnings have, that if they provoke Muslims enough, they will become violent. 

The Local notes, “The Danish National Police reports that during the period from 21 July to 28 November 2023, 528 demonstrations involving burnings of books or flags have been registered.”

Whichever number from this concerns the Holy Quran wasn’t mentioned, but it should go without stating that Islam doesn’t equal violence or attacks on innocents. 

At least this goes without saying in other places where Muslims are recognized as people, not as a group of terrorists.