‘More than half’ of Danes want embassy Quran burnings banned
More than half of Danes responding to a survey said they were in favour of banning far-right activist Rasmus Paludan’s Quran-burning demonstrations in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen, due to national security concerns.
Published: 3 February 2023 16:42 CET
Danish police in front of the Turkish Embassy in Coepnhagen on January 27th. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix
Concerns over national security were a key factor in the responses to the survey, conducted by institute Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau.
More precisely, 56 percent answered in the survey that they “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement that Paludan should be banned from burning the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy due to considerations of Denmark’s security.
Some 13.3 percent answered “neither agree nor disagree”.
Just over a quarter – 25.4 percent – said they “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with the statement. 5.3 percent answered “don’t know”.
Paludan has said he plans to burn a Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Turkey agrees to Sweden joining NATO. A week ago, he burned the Islamic holy book in three locations in the Danish capital.
That resulted in Turkey summoning the Danish ambassador in Ankara to protest Denmark’s “unacceptable” attitude towards Paludan’s actions.
“We strongly condemn the decision to grant permission for this provocative act, which clearly constitutes a hate crime,” a Turkish diplomatic source told reporters at the time.
READ ALSO: Danish foreign minister says relationship with Turkey ‘good’ amid new Quran burnings
Far-right provocateur Paludan came to prominence in Denmark in the late 2010s through his anti-Islam demonstrations in areas with sizeable minority ethnic communities. The main feature of the demonstrations is the burning and desecration of the Quran.
He has a conviction for inciting racial hatred, upheld in 2019 by a Danish high court, and failed in a bid to be elected to the country’s parliament in the same year.
Paludan’s demonstrations in Denmark have provoked angry and sometimes violent responses from minority communities and require a heavy police presence. The demonstrations are permitted under Denmark’s laws and constitution, which protects free speech and the right to gather in public.
Police are required to use considerable resources when the demonstrations take place.
In the survey, Voxmeter asked whether police should be able to limit the constitutional free speech and assembly rights of groups or individuals if protection of those groups or individuals is expected to be at large cost to police resources.
Just under half – 47.7 percent – said they “strongly agree” or “agree”. Some 28 percent said they “strongly disagree” or “disagree”.
Before 2017, Paludan’s demonstrations could have been deemed illegal. That year, a centuries-old blasphemy law against burning religious scriptures such as the Bible or Quran was repealed.
The law should be reinstated according to 34.6 percent who responded to Voxmeter’s survey. Close to the same proportion – 31.3 percent – said they did not want it to return.
The Voxmeter survey was undertaken between Tuesday January 31st and Friday February 3rd. Some 1,039 representative persons in Denmark, aged 18 and over, took part.
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