ANKARA (AA) – Allowing the burning of a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of Türkiye’s Embassy in Stockholm was “a big mistake” and laws about hate crimes in the country should be changed, says the head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden.
Lena Posner-Korosi said that Sweden has a law on freedom of expression and protest, but this should not cross the line of hatred.
Referring to laws on hate crimes and speech, she said it is “awful and terrifying” that the law would allow actions against the Quran, Bible, or Torah.
Although the perpetrator has a legal right to do so, she said the police should not have allowed that person to do that outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
On January 21, Rasmus Paludan, an Islamophobic Danish politician, burned a copy of the holy scriptures outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, under police protection and with permission from the authorities, drawing a wave of condemnations from across the Arab and Islamic worlds.
“It was definitely a provocation. He is free to do it in Sweden but he can’t choose where to do it, it shouldn’t be allowed. It was a big mistake,” said Posner-Korosi.
Posner-Korosi also said they should raise their voices as minorities in Sweden, noting that the current events cannot be accepted and this is also a threat to democracy.
“We should feel safe as a minority in society in democracy. We should be able to be free on the streets, no one should harass us,” she said.
“This creates a dilemma, but we are with the Muslim community and we are not giving up. We will raise this issue again and again.”
There may be attempts to revise the laws, she noted, adding: “In (the southern Swedish city of) Malmo, a woman was targeted because of her headscarf and the headscarf was tried to be removed. The same action was taken against a Jewish man’s kippa. The language of hate is used against Muslim and Jewish citizens.”
Urging both communities to report such events to the police, she said: “We need statistics.
“Unfortunately, Sweden has a homogeneous society. Swedish society is not accustomed to immigrants and minorities,” she said.
“When there are physical and verbal hate crimes, it is not clear that the offender will be punished definitively,” Posner-Korosi said. “Police need to investigate. The law needs to be revised.”