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Majority of Swedes Favor Prohibition on Public Burning of Religious Texts in Response to Global Outcry

Demonstrators burn a Swedish flag during a protest against the burning of a Quran in Sweden, in front of the Swedish Embassy in Tehran, Iran [Vahid Salemi/AP]

A recent survey conducted on behalf of Swedish national television broadcaster SVT reveals a notable shift in public sentiment within Sweden. A majority of the Swedish population now supports the implementation of a ban on the public burning of religious texts, including the Quran and the Bible. This change in perspective follows a highly controversial incident where an individual set fire to Islam’s holiest book, the Quran, in front of a Stockholm mosque. The survey, conducted by Kantar Public, indicates that 53 percent of respondents believe that burning holy scriptures of any religion in public should be prohibited, while 34 percent express a contrary view, and 13 percent remain undecided. These findings signify an 11 percent increase in favor of prohibiting such acts since a similar question was posed by Kantar in February, as part of a survey for Swedish Television network TV4.

Public Opinion Shift and Global Reaction:

The release of the recent survey findings comes amidst a wave of protests and international condemnation that Sweden has faced subsequent to the Quran burning incident. Numerous governments, particularly from Asia and the Middle East, have publicly denounced the act. Pakistan’s Prime Minister has called for nationwide protests, and Pope Francis himself expressed his anger and disgust towards the burning. The United Nations is expected to convene a meeting to discuss the incident. It is possible that this global outcry has influenced the changing public opinion in Sweden, as Toivo Sjoren, the head of opinion at Kantar Public, pointed out in an interview with SVT.

Impact on Sweden’s International Relations:

The Quran burnings have also had repercussions for Sweden’s international standing. Turkey, in particular, has obstructed Sweden’s bid to join NATO in response to the incident. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly criticized Sweden, stating that it is necessary to educate Western individuals about the boundaries of freedom of expression and the importance of not insulting the sacred values of Muslims. This development underscores the diplomatic challenges Sweden faces due to the Quran burning and its implications on international alliances.

Pope Francis Condemns Quran Burning:

In a recent interview with Emirati media outlet Al-Ittihad, Pope Francis emphasized the significance of human fraternity and condemned the burning of the Quran. The Pontiff asserted that any book regarded as sacred by its followers must be respected out of consideration for its believers. Expressing his indignation and disgust over the Quran burning in Sweden, the Pope highlighted that freedom of expression should never be exploited as a pretext for demeaning others. His remarks provide further condemnation of the incident and reinforce the importance of promoting understanding and mutual respect among different religious communities.

Combating Islamophobia from Europe to Latin America:

The Quran burning incident in Sweden serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address Islamophobia not only in Europe but also in regions like Latin America. As Islamic communities gain visibility and the Muslim population in Latin America continues to grow, reports of Islamophobia are on the rise. While South America has not witnessed such overt displays of intolerance, it is believed that underlying Islamophobia exists in many countries. Community leaders, particularly women, are actively working to confront this issue and foster greater tolerance and inclusivity.

Non-Aligned Movement Member States Strongly Condemn Quran Burning:

During the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau, foreign ministers from member states expressed their strong condemnation of the Quran burning incident in Sweden. Emphasizing the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, which advocate for territorial integrity, peace, conflict resolution, and equality, the ministers underscored the need to firmly denounce criminal actions such as this. They called for more robust efforts in combating Islamophobia and highlighted the valuable role played by the Non-Aligned Movement in addressing various global problems.

Pakistan Urges Sweden to Take Action:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan has voiced strong condemnation for the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden. He called upon the Swedish government to take “serious action” against the perpetrators responsible for this offensive act. PM Shehbaz Sharif, addressing the federal cabinet, emphasized that the Muslim Ummah, including the government and people of Pakistan, stand united in their condemnation of the Quran burning incident. He urged for an impartial investigation into the matter, free from any external influence. The prime minister also highlighted the presence of Islamophobia and hateful narratives targeting the Muslim population in Sweden, urging the Swedish government to address these concerns.

Conclusion: The recent survey results indicating a majority of Swedes supporting a ban on the public burning of religious texts reflect a significant shift in public opinion. The Quran burning incident in Sweden has triggered widespread international condemnation, prompting calls for action against such acts of religious intolerance. Pope Francis, along with leaders from various countries and organizations, has voiced strong disapproval of the incident and emphasized the need for respect, understanding, and combating Islamophobia globally. The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of promoting interfaith dialogue, tolerance, and mutual respect to foster a more inclusive and harmonious society.

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