COPENHAGEN, July 25 (Reuters) – A small group of anti-Islamic activists set Korans on fire in front of the Egyptian and Turkish embassies in Copenhagen on Tuesday, following similar protests that have angered Muslims in Denmark and Sweden in recent weeks.
Denmark and Sweden have said they condemn the burning of Islam’s holy book but cannot prevent it under laws protecting free speech. Last week, protesters in Iraq set fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.
The group was staged in front of the Iraqi embassy on Monday and last week following the burning of a Koran by a group of “Danish patriots” in Copenhagen on Tuesday. Two such incidents have taken place in Sweden in the past one month.
Iraq’s foreign ministry on Monday called on officials from EU countries to “quickly reconsider the so-called right to freedom of expression and demonstration” in light of the Koran burnings.
Turkey on Monday said it strongly condemned what it called a “hateful attack” on the Koran and urged Denmark to take the necessary measures to prevent this “hateful crime” against Islam.
Egypt’s foreign ministry called on Sweden’s officials on Tuesday to condemn the desecration of Korans.
Denmark has condemned the burnings as “provocative and shameful acts” but says it does not have the power to stop non-violent demonstrators.
Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said on Tuesday he had a “constructive phone call” with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein about the two countries’ bilateral relations and the Koran burning.
“DK has repeatedly condemned these shameful acts by some individuals. He urged all protests to be peaceful,” he wrote on social network X, formerly known as Twitter.
“People benefit from freedom of speech when they demonstrate,” University of Copenhagen law professor Drin Baumbach told Reuters, explaining the Danish laws. “It’s not just verbal expression. People can express themselves in different ways, like burning things.”
(Reporting by Louis Brusch Rasmussen, Editing by Terje Solsvik and Nick McPhee)
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