07/14/2023 Sweden (International Christian Concern) – Stockholm police released a statement on Friday, July 14th saying they will grant the request of a protestor who wants to burn the Torah and the Bible in front of the Israeli embassy in Sweden.
The man claims to be taking these actions in response to an Iraqi immigrant’s government-approved burning of the Quran outside of a mosque in Stockholm last month.
Sweden’s constitution protects “the freedom to practice one’s religion alone or in the company of others.” It prohibits discrimination based on religion, according to the U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom.
Sweden upholds clear hate-speech laws, which “prohibit threats or expressions of contempt for persons based on several factors, including religious belief. Penalties for such crimes range from fines to a prison sentence of up to four years depending on the incident’s severity,” says the U.S. State Department.
While the hate-speech laws are upheld and strictly monitored, with the government releasing statistics every two years, the right to hold public demonstrations is also strong in Sweden. Police are allowed to permit demonstrations based on whether they believe a public gathering can be held without major disruptions or risks to public safety, according to AP News.
When asked about this action, Stockholm police responded, saying they “do not give permission for different actions. We give permission to hold a public meeting! That’s an important difference.”
According to statistics gathered by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, by December 2020 (the most recent year with available statistics), 3,709 hate crimes were committed in Sweden. Of those, 9 percent were anti-Muslim, 5 percent were antisemitic, 2 percent anti-Christian, and other antireligious hate crimes accounted for 2 percent. Authorities said most victims of hate crimes did not report them to the police.
When asked about the event scheduled for this Saturday, Israeli officials asked Sweden to call off the protest reminding the government and the public that Israeli officials condemned both the burning of the Quran and the burning of the Bible.
“As the President of the State of Israel, I condemned the burning of the Quran, sacred to Muslims, and I am now heartbroken that the same fate awaits a Jewish Bible, the eternal book of the Jewish people,” Isaac Herzog said in a statement.
When asked his thoughts on the subject, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said in a statement to AP news, “By preventing this event from occurring, you would send a powerful message to the world that Sweden stands firmly against religious intolerance and that such acts have no place in a civilized society.”
This situation encourages us to pray for those who speak out and take extreme actions against Christians and those who feel endangered for practicing their religion in light of such acts.
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