The Danish government believes that such acts are causing harm to the nation’s interests and putting citizens at risk abroad. Under the proposed legislation desecrating the Quran or Bible would become an offense with penalties of up to two years in prison and fines.
The aim of this ban according to the centre right administration is to send a message to the international community. Recent weeks have seen over 170 protests with some individuals burning Qurans right in front of foreign embassies located on Danish soil.
Danish intelligence services have warned lawmakers about the escalating terrorism threats faced by their country due to these incidents. Neighboring Sweden has also experienced backlash and security concerns following public Quran burnings, including an attack on their embassy in Iraq by angry protesters. However, both Denmark and Sweden have had challenges responding firmly due, to their liberal free speech laws.
The Danish proposal, which has a focus aims to criminalize public burnings while still upholding free expression and democratic principles. While acknowledging the importance of freedom of speech authorities have expressed the need to address national security concerns that have arisen due to Quran burnings. The goal is to outlaw actions that fuel hatred and create divisions between communities.
The government plans to introduce a binding amendment on September 1st with the aim of passing it through Parliament by the end of this year. This ban would make it a punishable criminal offence to desecrate both the Quran and Bible to the existing prohibition on insulting foreign countries’ flags and other national symbols.
This punitive measure comes in response to incidents of Quran burning in Denmark and Sweden in late July. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation representing more than 50 Muslim-majority member states has strongly urged governments to take action against European countries where such acts occur.
Considering the increasing terrorism threats and national security interests at stake Denmark aims to prevent actions that have resulted in diplomatic crises and put Danish citizens and assets at risk worldwide. Lawmakers recognize the importance of speech but believe it is time to enforce legal consequences for deliberate provocations, through targeted legislation.