TEHRAN -- Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets in Tehran and other cities across the country to protest the desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Europe.
Following the Friday prayers, worshipers gathered across Iran, marched in rallies, and chanted slogans, condemning the blasphemous act.
The protesters expressed anger at the sacrilege which European governments justify under the cloak of the freedom of speech but do not brook any questioning of the Holocaust, for example.
They said the heinous incident is an act of incitement and a serious provocation of the sentiments of more than two billion Muslims worldwide. They called on European authorities to put an end to hostilities toward Islam.
On Monday, a Dutch politician tore apart a copy of the Holy Qur’an in the city of The Hague. It followed an incident in Sweden where a politician burned a copy of the Qur’an outside the Turkish embassy.
The politician committed the scandalous act after receiving permission from Swedish authorities who provided police guards to ensure nobody prevented it.
The outrageous acts have drawn strong condemnation from Muslims, with many states such as Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates denouncing the provocative and Islamophobic move.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said, “The insane desecration of the Qur’an, which is committed under the slogan of freedom of speech, shows the Arrogant Power’s attacks are aimed at Islam itself and the Quran.”
“The Qur’an is shining more brightly every day and the future belongs to Islam despite the Arrogant Power’s plots,” the Leader’s message added.
“All freedom-seekers of the world should stand by Muslims in confronting the wicked plot of insulting sanctities and spreading hate.”
Referring to the recent insults, Tehran Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Kazem Seddiqi said they show the Western world is afraid of Islam and the Islamic Revolution.
“They are doing these things contrary to their own slogans that call for freedom,” he said.
On Thursday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the desecration of the Holy Qur’an and disrespect for Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (Peace upon Him) are an insult to all Abrahamic religions and humanity.
Addressing a conference here, Raisi said, “This heinous act and similar cases that are carried out in the name of freedom of expression
are actually considered the worst type of insult to humanity.”
The president said no one in the world accepts such insulting acts “as they are at odds with the freedom of expression and block freedom of expression in human societies.”
Protests Held in Many Muslim Countries
Protests were held on Friday in several predominantly Muslim countries including Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon, which ended with people dispersing peacefully. In Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, police officers stopped some demonstrators trying to march toward the Swedish Embassy.
About 12,000 people rallied in Lahore, the capital of the eastern Punjab province to denounce the desecration of the Qur’an in the two European countries. In his speech to the demonstrators, Saad Rizvi, the head of a political group, asked the government to lodge a strong protest with Sweden and the Netherlands so that such incidents don’t happen again.
Similar rallies were also held in the southern city of Karachi and in the northwest.
In Beirut, angry protesters burned the flags of Sweden and the Netherlands outside the blue-domed Muhammad Al-Amin mosque at Beirut’s central Martyrs Square.
In Iraq, hundreds of people gathered outside a mosque in Baghdad waving copies of the Qur’an.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s ministry of foreign affairs has condemned “in the strongest terms” the desecration as demonstrators gathered outside the Swedish and Dutch embassies in Kuala Lumpur.
On Thursday, the foreign ministry summoned Sweden’s envoy to express the Malaysian government’s “objection and disappointment” with Sweden for not taking action to stop Rasmus Paluda, a Danish far-right political leader, from burning a Qur’an on Saturday near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
“Malaysia is appalled that such an Islamophobic act has been repeated within the last few days despite global condemnation,” the ministry said.
“Malaysia reiterates that bigotry, racism and any form of desecration of the Holy Scriptures, regardless of religion is unacceptable and should be condemned,” it said.
The right to freedom of expression involves “certain responsibilities and should not be abused”, the ministry said, calling on the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the UN’s Human Rights Council to “urgently address” the issue of protection of religious scriptures around the world.
The foreign ministry pressed Sweden on Thursday to take “serious measures to combat all forms of violence and hatred against Islam”.
Failing to do so would allow Islamophobia and xenophobia to continue to prevail, the ministry said in a statement after its meeting with the Swedish charge d’affaires.
Local media in Malaysia reported that groups of protesters had gathered on Friday at offices housing the embassies of Sweden and the Netherlands to protest the desecration of the Quran. Estimates of the numbers of protesters ranged from dozens to 100 and possibly as many as 1,000, according to one report.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim had also weighed in on the matter, describing the desecration of the Qur’an as a “vile act” a “hate crime” and a “grave provocation to Muslims worldwide”.
Azmi Abdul Hamid, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organization, said there would be international consequences for what had taken place.
“You cannot say that this is a small matter. This will have an international repercussion,” he said at the protests.