The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution condemning Quran burning and other acts of religious hatred. However, the text has drawn criticism from several countries that believe it infringes upon freedom of expression.
The resolution was adopted in response to an urgent debate requested by Pakistan on behalf of several Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries following a recent Quran burning incident in Sweden. Out of the Council’s 47 members, 28 voted in favor of the resolution, including China, Ukraine, and most African countries. Seven members abstained, while twelve voted against it, including France, Germany, the UK, the USA, and Costa Rica.
The resolution denounces all advocacy and manifestations of religious hatred, including recent public and premeditated acts that have desecrated the Quran. It also urges countries to enact legislation that enables them to hold accountable those responsible for such acts. The UN has been called upon to identify countries lacking such legislation and to organize a round table of experts to address the issue.
Pakistan’s ambassador, Khalil Hashmi, described the text as balanced, refraining from pointing fingers at any specific state. Chinese ambassador Chen Xu expressed support for the resolution, stating that Islamophobia is on the rise and incidents of Quran desecration persist in some countries.
However, US Ambassador Michèle Taylor expressed regret in voting against the resolution, citing concerns that the text contradicts long-held positions on freedom of expression. Several Latin American countries, including Mexico and Honduras, abstained from the vote, believing that more time was needed for negotiations and consensus.
Before the vote, Mexico asserted that any expression critical of religion does not in itself constitute incitement to violence and discrimination.
The incident that sparked the resolution occurred on June 28, when an Iraqi refugee in Sweden burned pages of the Quran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Swedish police initially authorised the gathering but later launched an investigation for “agitation against an ethnic group” due to the location of the incident.
Following the occurrence, the Swedish Christian Council’s (SKR) Presidium promptly released an official statement denouncing the Quran burning act, “As Christian Churches, we defend the right of every person to practice their faith regardless of religion.”
It continues, “The burning of the Quran is a deliberate violation of the Muslim faith and identity, but we see it also as an attack on all of us people of faith. Therefore, we want to express our solidarity with Muslim believers in our country”.
The incident generated widespread reactions throughout the Muslim world. The adoption of the resolution by the UN Human Rights Council reflects the ongoing debate surrounding freedom of expression, religious sensitivity, and the protection of religious symbols.
Kuwait Plans to Print 100,000 Swedish Quran Following Quran Burning Incident
The Kuwaiti government has announced its intention to publish 100,000 copies of the Quran in Swedish, which will be distributed in Sweden to promote tolerance, Islamic values, and coexistence. This decision comes in response to the controversial incident of Quran burning that occurred in Stockholm during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha last month.
The initiative was proposed by Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and received approval from the Council of Ministers. The responsibility of printing and publishing the translated copies of the Quran has been entrusted to the Public Authority for Public Care.
The aim of this effort is to “emphasise the tolerance of the Islamic religion and promote Islamic values and coexistence among all human beings,” as reported by the Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA). The translation process, carried out by the late Knut Bernstrom, a renowned Swedish translator and convert to Islam, has been completed, and the printing of the Swedish Qurans is expected to be finalized soon.
The copies will be distributed to various locations across Sweden, including mosques, libraries, schools, and other institutions. Kuwait, along with several other Muslim-majority and Arab nations, expressed strong condemnation of the Quran-burning incident that occurred in Sweden.