In the wake of the recent unfortunate incident of Quran burning in Sweden, the United Nations Human Rights Council addressed the global rise of hate speech and adopted a resolution condemning Quran burnings and religious hatred.
Despite some opposition due to concerns about freedom of speech, the resolution received 28 votes in favor, 12 against, and seven abstentions among the 47 council members.
Image Credit: Aljazeera
What happened in Sweden?
Last month, an Iraqi-born protester’s actions in Stockholm during Eid-ul-Adha sparked outrage in the Muslim world. The individual tore pages from the Quran, burning some and using others to wipe his shoes outside a mosque.
This incident led to the brief storming of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad and Iran’s delay in sending a new ambassador to Sweden.
Turkey also cited the event as a reason for initially withholding approval of Sweden’s NATO membership application.
Sweden’s right-wing government condemned the Quran burning as Islamophobic but emphasized its commitment to protecting freedom of assembly, expression, and demonstration.
Sweden’s government rejected the Islamophobic act, asserting it did not reflect their opinions. However, critics pointed out that the protester stayed within the bounds of the law, exercising constitutional freedom of expression.
Protests Across Pakistan
Protests erupted in Pakistan and other Islamic countries after an Iraqi immigrant desecrated the Quran near Stockholm’s main mosque.
Pakistan and other nations highlighted the alarming increase in deliberate acts of religious hatred, particularly the desecration of the Holy Quran in some European and other countries. Mistreating the Quran is considered blasphemy in Islam and is seen as incitement to religious hatred, discrimination, and violence.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Condemned the Incident
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, highlighted the incident as incitement to religious hatred and provocation of violence.
Ministers from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia also expressed concern.
The UN human rights chief emphasized the harms of such offensive and irresponsible acts against any religion or minority.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned the recent aggression against the Holy Quran copies in Stockholm, Sweden.
During a meeting, the OIC expressed deep regret over such desecration incidents and called on the international community to oppose these provocative attempts.
They emphasized the need to protect the sanctity of the Holy Quran and upheld responsible freedom of expression.
Western Country’s Strong Opposition
The resolution faced strong opposition from Western countries, including the US and EU, who argued it conflicted with free speech laws.
Nonetheless, the resolution passed with 28 countries in favor, 12 against, and seven abstaining.
Western countries, while condemning the burnings, defended free speech. The German envoy deemed it a “dreadful provocation” but stated that free speech includes hearing challenging opinions.
The French envoy emphasized human rights protection for people, not religions or symbols.
Despite opposition, Pakistan’s envoy to the UN clarified that the resolution aimed to strike a balance without curbing free speech while lamenting some states’ failure to counter religious hatred effectively.
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