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Quran-Burning Raises Risk of Terrorism, Norwegian Security Service Warns

© AP Photo / Khalil SenosiA Muslim reads the Quran at the Jamia mosque, during the of holy month of Ramadan in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April 13, 2022
A Muslim reads the Quran at the Jamia mosque, during the of holy month of Ramadan in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April 13, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.02.2023
While Norwegian law, like in Scandinavia in general, has no concept of blasphemy and allows the burning of the Quran, a recent poll indicated that nearly half of Norwegians are in favor of banning the practice of defacing religious symbols. This debate was spurred by several copies of the Quran being burned across Scandinavia in recent weeks.
Norway's Police Security Service (PST) has warned against Quran burning over the signal it could potentially send to Islamists across the world.
According to PST assistant chief Hedvig Moe, torching Islam's holy book could lead to Norway becoming "a target for Islamic extremists." Moe also ventured that "a momentary snapshot may affect the perception of the situation at home and abroad."
At the same time, Moe also stressed that the PST's job is to make broad assessments, leaving concrete decisions on events to be canceled or moved to the police and the authorities.
On February 3, the activist group Stop the Islamization of Norway (SIAN), which over the years has burnt several copies of the Quran to show its opposition to Islam, planned to hold a demonstration in front of the Turkish Embassy in Oslo, but its application was ultimately rejected by the police over security concerns. Oslo police district spokesman Martin Strand admitted that security cannot be ensured "in a satisfactory manner."
This followed a series of Quran burnings in Sweden and Denmark by Swedish-Danish politician and fringe Hard Line party leader Rasmus Paludan, who claimed to thereby "teach a lesson to Turkish President Recep Erdogan on how freedom of speech works." While Paludan has long made defacing the Quran a fixture in his political repertoire and part of his anti-immigrant and anti-Islam rhetoric, his actions have rarely gained attention outside of Scandinavia. This time, however, with Sweden's NATO bid on the line and hanging on Turkey's final approval, it sparked a wave of protests across the Muslim world, with Swedish flags being burned in several places.
Notably, after a SIAN member set fire to the Quran in the city of Kristiansand on November 16, 2019, protesters in Pakistan also responded by burning Norwegian flags.
Norwegian law, like all of Scandinavia, has no concept of blasphemy and allows the burning of the Quran. However, a recent survey by pollster InFact showed that almost half of those questioned, 44.5 percent, believe it should be forbidden to burn the Quran, or other religious symbols for that matter. By contrast, 33 percent argued that torching religious symbols should be allowed.
Sweden's new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, speaks to the media  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.02.2023
Swedish Prime Minister Says Quran-Burning Hurt Country's Image Abroad
The recent Quran torchings have encapsulated the conundrum between the West's celebrated commitment to freedom of speech, the fight against hate speech, and the quest to guarantee its political and security interests. Among others, former Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt slammed the Stockholm police for not taking into account potential security risks for Sweden when allowing the Quran burning. By contrast, Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson defended the freedom of speech and slammed the government for "groveling for dictatorial Islamism."
After the recent Quran burnings, the US spectacularly issued a terror warning to its citizens in Sweden, whereas the Norwegian Foreign Ministry changed travel advice for African nations such as Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, cautioning of a risk of terrorist attacks against Western targets.
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