An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden burned the Koran outside a Stockholm mosque last week, causing outrage in the Muslim world and condemnation from the pope. The Swedish Security services said such action left the country less safe.
The police denied several applications earlier this year for protests that were set to include burning the Koran, citing security concerns, but courts have since overturned the police's decisions, saying such acts are protected by Sweden's far-reaching freedom of speech laws.
Sweden's minister of justice said on Thursday that the government is analysing the situation and whether the law needs to be changed to allow the police to deny such requests.
"We have to ask ourselves whether the current order is good or whether there is reason to reconsider it," Strommer told Aftonbladet.
Any cynics seeing any linkage to getting Turkey aboard with Sweden NATO accession?: shame on your such conspirational thinking ;-)
But that still leaves me with the question - as an agnostic/atheist - of how useful it is to protect such acts in the name of freedom of speech:
does burning holy books protect against government oppression? Hah! Putting the Swedish government in its place.
does burning holy books expose government malfeasance or corruption?
I note that many European countries do have restriction on political expression - such as displaying Nazi symbols.
And also that not all Koran burning is what it seems Burning of Qur’an in Stockholm funded by journalist with Kremlin ties | Sweden | The Guardian.
I also note that, while Bible burnings do not result in lootings and lynchings, there is, within Western countries, a fairly strong self-policing to disapprove of such acts, rather than holding them up as a regular act of political freedom.
Not that Christians never engage in religious terrorism either. When Last Temptation of Christ came out in 1988, a cinema in Paris' Left Bank got firebombed and a man got horribly burned. Asked to condemn it, a senior French bishop said something like "This is horrible and we condemn it. But he shouldn't have been in there watching that movie". Heard on radio as I was living in Paris at the time.
Now the risks to any prohibition of "religious disrespect acts" are also easy to imagine and easy to find examples for:
political repression, which for example is a standard BJP tactic re. "insulting Hindus"
encouraging lynching mob mentality. Lynchings in Pakistan for "blasphemy" are frequent.
too wide, thus catching artistic expression like Last Temptation of Christ or Satanic Verses.
suppressing exposure malfeasances like child abuse (ex: Catholic Church)
suppression of valid criticism like Hirsi Ali's Nomad.
Do some Western countries with high democracy index scores (i.e. not Poland for example) manage to NARROWLY penalize gratuitous displays of religious disrespect / incitation to hatred?