WASHINGTON (AA) – The US said Monday that an extremist’s burning of a Quran in front of Türkiye’s Embassy in the Swedish capital Stockholm was “deeply disrespectful” but stopped short of condemning it.
“Just as the Swedish prime minister said, burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Stressing that the US supports freedom of association and the right to peaceful assembly as elements of democracy, Price said: “And he (Sweden’s prime minister) made the point that what is legal is not necessarily appropriate.
“We have a saying in this country: something can be lawful but awful,” he said. “I think in this case, what we’ve seen in the context of Sweden falls into that category.”
Price said those behind the burning of Islam’s holy book “may be engaging in an intentional effort to try to weaken unity across the Atlantic within and among our European allies and partners.”
He said that freedom of expression gives people the “right to undertake actions that may be disrespectful, they may be repugnant, that may be disgusting.”
“I think all of those descriptors apply to what we see here,” he continued.
Asked by reporters why he does not condemn the burning of the Quran, Price said: “I’m certainly not refraining from condemning this, this particular action, as I said before. It’s repugnant. It is something that is vile.
“Of course, countries around the world have, and what we also seek to uphold are the very democratic principles that we’re talking about here: the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of expression,” he said.
Rasmus Paludan, an extremist Swedish-Danish politician, burned a copy of the Quran on Saturday outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm with both police protection and permission from the Swedish government.