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Desecration of the Holy Quran 

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan 

“He is the One Who has sent His Messenger with ‘true’ guidance (Quran) and the religion of truth (Islam), making it prevail over all others, even to the dismay of the polytheists”. (Surah As-Saf verse 9).

The recent incident of burning of the Holy Quran that took place outside the Swedish capital Stockholm’s main masjid last week when an Iraqi Christian immigrant burned the Holy Quran, is yet another crude manifestation of Islamophobia. This outrageous incident has triggered widespread condemnation in the Islamic world besides sparking a debate in Sweden about the limits of the so-called freedom of expression. 

This isn’t the first time such sacrilegious acts by non-Muslims in the West against Islam have happened. Earlier too on several occasions such stunning incidents like publishing of cartoons of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in Denmark by a Danish magazine in 2005, video made in the US in 2012 defaming Islam and the Holy Prophet (SAW), caricatures of the Holy prophet (SAW) displayed in the class by a French school teacher in France in 2020 and the offensive statement by French president Macron defending the act, and now the grossly offensive act of burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden have taken place and will keep recurring unless practical actions like severing diplomatic ties and boycotting the products of the country where such incident takes place, are taken.  

However, the Swedish government, in an attempt to calm down the situation, has issued a statement rejecting the Islamophobic act committed by individuals in Sweden, adding that it “ in no way reflects the policy of the Swedish government”. But, the government’s statement has invited the wrath of certain extremist elements of Swedish society and intense criticism from many in Sweden who are of the view that the government should refrain from curbing freedom of expression and should resist pressure to reintroduce blasphemy laws.  

Protests against desecration of Holy Quran
Demonstrators gather outside the Swedish Embassy in Jakarta.

The reaction that has come from the Muslim world is not intense enough to elicit the attention of the non-Muslim world. The stunning incident warrants intense reaction and befitting response. Merely passing a resolution by Muslim countries in their respective parliaments as has been done by the National Assembly of Pakistan against such sacrilegious acts is not enough. However, it’s heartening to see Morocco, the only Muslim country going beyond a statement of condemnation and recalling its ambassador to Sweden for an indefinite period, and Iran refusing to send his newly appointed ambassador to Sweden to register its protest against the incident. Such like actions are needed to bring the offenders to their knees and to deter them from repeating such incidents in the future.  

The traditional response with customary condemnation that has emanated from the OIC which claims to be the sole representative body (a spineless body which exists in name only) of the Muslims of 56 Islamic countries, is nothing but an exercise in futility and doesn’t carry any meaning unless bolstered by practical actions as mentioned above besides peaceful protest demonstrations to convey a forceful message to the non-Muslim world. 

Moreover, It’s quite depressing to see the top political leadership of the country not taking the incident that seriously as it demands, and merely issuing traditional condemnatory statements. As for Imran Khan, who has remained prime minister of the country and who is famed for coming up with far-fetched narratives every time which he tells in each public appearance and who professedly claims, be that as it may, to be the champion of the Islamic cause and boastfully takes the credit of speaking so openly and defiantly against Islamophobia, and doesn’t let any opportunity slip to talk to foreign correspondents even on issues of trivial nature, was expected to speak out openly against the recent incident of burning of the Holy Quran and strongly condemn it instead of writing a few condemnatory lines on his twitter regarding the incident, but he chose not to do so for understandable reasons, because he can’t afford to offend his foreign friends at this crucial time.

But as a Muslim we shouldn’t forget the clear message of the Holy Quran which says, “Never will the Jews and the Christians be pleased with you, until you follow their faith”. Say, Allah’s guidance is the true guidance”. (Surah Baqarah verse 120). 

Lastly, amidst such an anti-Islamic aura prevailing in the West, it’s good to see the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) convening an urgent meeting to look into the incident of burning of the Holy Quran following the request from the government of Pakistan. It’s earnestly hoped that the meeting will not be merely an eyewash turning out to be just sitting, conversing and dispersing (Nishastando, guftando, barkhastand as the Persian saying goes). It’s also hoped that concrete measures would be taken by UNHRC to curb such Islamophobic acts in the future in all its forms and manifestations which unfortunately, has become the order of the day in the West in the absence of any strong reaction by Islamic countries accompanied by punitive measures such as boycotting the products and severing diplomatic ties with the country where such incidents take place. 


Also read: Gratitude and the holy Quran 

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