The Danish government is taking steps to prevent the mistreatment or destruction of items of religious significance, according to Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard. This move comes after a series of Quran burnings in Denmark strained relations between the country and several Muslim nations. Hummelgaard announced on Friday that the government plans to propose legislation that would make it illegal to publicly mishandle objects with essential religious importance.
The proposed law aims to prohibit the burning of religious texts such as the Quran, Bible, or Torah in public. Hummelgaard emphasized that Denmark’s increasing reputation as a country that facilitates insult and denigration of other countries and religions puts the safety of Danes at risk, both domestically and abroad. If the bill is passed, individuals found guilty of acts like public burning of sacred texts could face fines or up to two years in prison. However, the minister did not specify when the parliament is expected to vote on the proposed law.
The proposed legislation has faced opposition from Danish opposition parties, who argue that banning Quran burnings would infringe upon free speech. In response to this criticism, Hummelgaard stated that he fundamentally believes that there are more civilized ways to express one’s views than burning things.
This endeavor to protect religious objects from maltreatment is not limited to Denmark. In July, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also expressed interest in finding a legal tool that would enable authorities to prevent the burning of the Quran in front of other countries’ embassies. Rasmussen emphasized that such acts, which he called deeply offensive and reckless, do not align with the values on which Danish society is built. However, any measures taken to address these acts in the future must respect constitutionally protected freedoms of expression.
Denmark’s neighboring country, Sweden, has also experienced recent incidents of Quran burning. Stockholm is currently exploring options to outlaw the desecration of holy texts while preserving its constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated that not everything legal is appropriate and announced stricter border measures to prevent individuals with weak connections to Sweden from entering the country to commit crimes or act against its security interests.
As Denmark and Sweden work towards implementing measures to prevent the mistreatment of religious objects, it is evident that they are striving to strike a balance between protecting religious sensitivity and upholding fundamental rights and freedoms. These efforts highlight the importance of addressing acts that incite religious tensions while ensuring that freedom of expression is safeguarded. The proposed legislation in Denmark represents a proactive approach to maintaining social harmony and respecting diverse religious beliefs.