Pakistan condemns Quran burning as ‘attack on faith’ at UN rights body

Supporters demonstrated inside the courtyard of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad after they breached the building briefly over the burning of the Quran by an Iraqi living in Sweden.


Supporters demonstrated inside the courtyard of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad after they breached the building briefly over the burning of the Quran by an Iraqi living in Sweden.

  • Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that the desecration of the Quran amounted to the incitement of religious hatred in the wake of a Quran burning in Sweden last month.
  • The UN Human Rights Council debated a contentious motion.
  • An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden burned the Quran outside a Stockholm mosque last month, sparking outrage across the Muslim world and protests in several Pakistani cities.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that the desecration of the Quran amounted to the incitement of religious hatred as the UN Human Rights Council debated a contentious motion in the wake of a Quran burning in Sweden last month.

The motion, brought by Pakistan in response to the incident in Sweden, seeks a report from the UN rights chief on the topic and calls on states to review their laws and plug gaps that may “impede the prevention and prosecution of acts and advocacy of religious hatred”.

It has highlighted rifts in the UN body between the West and a Muslim grouping, with western members concerned about its implications for free speech and challenges posed to long-held practices in human rights protection.

An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden burned the Quran outside a Stockholm mosque last month, sparking outrage across the Muslim world and protests in several Pakistani cities.

READ | Iraqis breach Sweden mission as Muslim nations denounce Quran burning

“We must see this clearly for what it is: incitement to religious hatred, discrimination and attempts to provoke violence,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told the council via video link, saying such acts had occurred under “government sanction and with the sense of impunity”.

“It is important to understand the deep hurt that a public and premeditated act of the Quran’s desecration causes to Muslims. It is an attack on their faith,” he added.

His remarks were echoed by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, who also condemned the Sweden incident.

UN Human Rights Chief Volker Turk told the 47-member council that inflammatory acts against Muslims, as well as other religions or minorities, are “offensive, irresponsible and wrong”.

But, he continued, these were “complex areas” and care needs to be taken in setting legal limits on free speech, which could be abused by those in power.

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