Protests erupted across several Muslim countries on Friday, as thousands of people took to the streets to condemn the recent desecration of a Quran by far-right activists in Sweden and the Netherlands. In Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon, the demonstrations ended peacefully.
However, in Beirut, 200 protesters burned the flags of Sweden and the Netherlands outside the Mohammed Al-Amin mosque at Martyrs Square. The burning of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, by a Danish far-right activist in Sweden and the tearing of pages from a Quran by the Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, has angered Muslims around the world. Swedish officials have stressed that freedom of expression is protected by the Swedish Constitution but incitement to violence or hate speech is not allowed. The powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr questioned whether freedom of speech should include offending other people’s beliefs, and asked if burning the rainbow flag of the gay community would also be considered freedom of expression. He added that burning the Quran will bring divine anger.