Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has urged the states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to come together and take tangible and impactful measures to address protests that involve the disrespect of the holy Qur’an.
He was speaking at an extraordinary OIC meeting on Monday to address repeated incidents where copies of the Qur’an have been desecrated in Sweden and Denmark.
Prince Faisal said that the organization was responsible for defending the values of tolerance and peace, protecting and spreading the true image of Islam, and rejecting and combating intolerance and extremism.
Prince Faisal highlighted that efforts by OIC states resulted in the UN Human Rights Council adopting a resolution on July 12 which condemned and strongly rejected any advocacy and manifestation of religious hatred, including public and pre-meditated acts of desecration of the holy Qur’an.
The foreign minister said that freedom of expression should be a moral value that spread respect and coexistence among people and not a tool to spread hatred and clashes between cultures.
He highlighted the need to spread the values of tolerance and moderation, and reject all forms of practices that generated hatred, violence and extremism.
Prince Faisal renewed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of Qur’an-desecrating incidents, stressing that these provocative acts could not be accepted under any justification.
OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha called on Sweden and Denmark to prevent Qur’an desecration and “expressed his disappointment that no measures were taken in this regard so far.”
“It is unfortunate that the concerned authorities claiming freedom of expression continue to provide licenses to repeat these acts contrary to international law, and this leads to a lack of respect for religions,” Taha said in remarks during the meeting.
A recent string of public Qur’an desecrations by a handful of anti-Islam activists in Denmark and Sweden have sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.
Earlier on Monday, more Qur’an burnings took place in Sweden and Denmark as the governments of the two Nordic countries said that they were examining ways to legally limit such acts in a bid to de-escalate growing tensions with OIC countries.
On Sunday, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that the government would seek to make it illegal to desecrate the Qur’an or other religious holy books in front of foreign embassies in the Nordic country.
He said in an interview with the Danish public broadcaster DR that the burning of holy scriptures “only serves the purpose of creating division in a world that actually needs unity.”