Free Expression Must Trump Religious Sensitivities
Caving to bullies only emboldens them.
Denmark is set to pass a law that would ban the desecration of religious objects, after a spate of Quran-burnings by anti-Islam activists angered Muslims around the world. The Danish law imposes a two-year prison sentence and fines for anyone who desecrates a holy book in public.
What an embarrassment.
The Danish law ostensibly protects all objects of religious significance, but is a pretty transparent attempt to appease a handful of Muslim political leaders and protestors, some of them violent. Both Sweden and Denmark have struggled to appropriately respond to far-right and other anti-Islam protesters — including at least one refugee from Iraq — who have burned Qurans in public. These Quran-burnings have resulted in diplomatic crises and elevated terrorism threats: After a Quran was burned in Stockholm, Iraq expelled the Swedish ambassador, and a violent mob stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad and set it ablaze. The leader of Hezbollah encouraged Arab nations to expel Swedish ambassadors from their countries; protests in Pakistan turned violent; and the Turkish president said the burnings were a reason to block Sweden from joining NATO. Sweden elevated its terrorism threat level to high after the burnings and the related spasms of violence, with the outrage echoing the sustained violence, diplomatic crises, and widespread boycotts that followed the 2005 publication of drawings of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.
It’s all so small and pathetic. Truly, if a cartoon or a drawing or a person setting a book or a flag ablaze is enough to send you into a violent fit, you need serious help, not a new law to cater to your temper tantrums.