The Danish government on Friday said it has prepared a bill that — if passed — could lead to a countrywide ban on Quran burnings, amidst rising terror threats and outrage in the Muslim world. The bill is yet to be presented in the country’s parliament.
Denmark’s Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, told Danish radio that the move sends an “important political signal” to the rest of the world, reported Al Jazeera. Under the new bill, burning a Quran would be a crime subject to penalties or a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
Peter Hummelgaard, the justice minister, explained that the proposed law is intended to be written into the same regulation that currently bans the desecration of other countries’ flags. The Danish law would prohibit the “improper treatment of objects of significant religious significance to a religious community”, he said.
Hummelgaard, speaking at a press conference, said that a spate of recent Quran burnings were “senseless taunts” aimed to incite “discord and hatred”, adding that national security was the primary “motivation” for the ban.
Denmark and Sweden have seen a string of protests in public in recent weeks where copies of the Quran have been burned or otherwise damaged, prompting outrage in Muslim nations which have demanded the Nordic governments put a stop to the burnings, reported Reuters.
Following the Quran burnings, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom recently declared that Danish officials had foiled several planned “terror” plots and made arrests.
“We can’t continue to stand by with our arms crossed while several individuals do everything they can to provoke violent reactions,” Hummelgaard said.
The government rejected protests by some Danish opposition parties that said banning Quran burnings would infringe on free speech.
“I fundamentally believe there are more civilised ways to express one’s views than burning things,” Hummelgaard said.
Neighbouring Sweden has also said it is examining ways to legally limit Quran desecrations to reduce tensions after recent threats that led the country’s security officials to raise the terrorist threat level.
The bill would make it illegal to openly burn the Quran, Torah or Bible. The time for the bill proposal to the 179-seat Danish Parliament is still unknown.